By Alyssa McMurtry
A former leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia told the country’s Supreme Court on Monday his trial was a “political process”.
Francesc Homs, a former senior Catalan minister, testified over his role in the region’s symbolic independence referendum in November 2014.
Homs is being investigated for “disobedience”, along with several other Catalan separatist politicians -- including the region’s former president, Artur Mas -- for organizing and carrying out a non-binding vote on Catalan independence.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Homs said: “This [the trial] is a political process, an act that isn’t based on law but instead on the obsession to stop the process that’s been initiated in Catalonia.”
“The sentence is already decided,” he said, calling Catalans’ symbolic vote “clearly legal”.
In September 2014, the Catalan government passed a motion to hold a referendum on the question of independence. Madrid quickly appealed the process and the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled against the planned vote.
It argues that all Spaniards have the right to decide on an issue of national importance, not just one region.
In reaction, Catalan independence leaders decided to obey the suspension. Instead, they planned a similar “participatory process” or symbolic vote that would have no binding outcome, for the same date as the referendum—Nov. 9, 2014.
“We had a democratic mandate with which we had to comply. We said that it wasn’t legally binding, it wasn’t to proclaim independence the next day; it was to know how many people were in favor of independence and how many were against it,” Mas told reporters on Monday, as he accompanied Homs to court.
Days before the vote, the Spanish Constitutional Court temporarily suspended the symbolic poll. Catalan leaders went ahead with the vote.
Now the leaders are facing the consequences. Along with the same disobedience charges against Homs, the Catalan vice president, former education minister and former president are being investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds, breach of public duty and usurpation of powers in relation to the vote.
Catalonia currently has a separatist government which plans to break away from Spain within the next year. Earlier this month, current Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he would ask Madrid for another referendum at the end of September.