President Puigdemont and Vice-president Junqueras held an extraordinary press conference on Tuesday afternoon to denounce the decision reached by the Court of Auditors to move up the deadline for former president Mas, Joana Ortega, Irene Rigau and Francesc Homs to pay over 5 million euros in fines for organising the 9N consultation.
The deadline was initially intended for October 1, but Spain’s national audit office has now set the deadline for September 25 and extended the fine to 11 Catalan officials for their implication in the non-binding vote of 2014. A vote in which 2.3 million citizens expressed their opinion on the political future of Catalonia.
Both the President and the Vice-president of the Catalan Government viewed the decision as an another effort by the State government to intimidate Catalonia’s political representatives ahead of the referendum on independence scheduled for October 1.
According to Puigdemont, the State government has decided to “promote fear” in what will be a key week in the Catalan parliament and “increase the threats and aggressions towards citizens willing to vote”. “The State has made a qualitative leap in scare tactics to try to stop the inevitable vote on October 1”, he affirmed.
The President also denounced the audit office’s lack of respect for fundamental guarantees by skipping “in a record-setting time” procedural safeguards and the right of those affected by the decision to present their defense. “It has not even read or waited for the case files that were asked of us”, he added. The Court of Auditors, which according to Puigdemont is “one of the most politicized bodies in the Spanish state”, is in charge of overseeing the financing of political parties and the public sector however it failed to act effectively in several corruption cases involving the People’s Party, such as Gürtel, Bárcenas and the Fundescam case in Madrid.
In this regard, the Vice-president of the Catalan Government and Minister of the Economy and Finance, Oriol Junqueras, said that there are “no guarantees that the executive behaves in the same way with all Spanish democrats”. “The Spanish government skips all the basic rules of democracy”, he added.
In addition to the fine, earlier in March the High Court of Justice barred president Mas from office for 2 years and imposed similar sentences for Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau, while the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid barred Francesc Homs from office for 13 months.