The Catalan Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Bernat Solé, testified this Monday before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), accused of an alleged crime of disobedience during the self-determination referendum celebrated on October 1 2017. At that time, Solé was mayor of the municipality of Agramunt. In a press briefing just after the hearing, Solé denounced that his trial is part of a “general case”. “Putting me on trial is putting every mayor of Catalonia on trial”, he said. To the Foreign Minister, “today it has been proven that there has been no act of disobedience, but on the contrary: I have obeyed the will of the citizens”. Solé also affirmed that being on the side of the citizens should never be considered an act of disobedience”.
Coming out of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), the minister called for "building a joint strategy" and to centre "amnesty and the referendum as essential elements" to resolve the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain, which he said must be resolved " through negotiation and democracy”. "Nowhere in the world has a political conflict been resolved through the judiciary, but all political conflicts have been resolved sooner or later through dialogue," Solé recalled.
The minister also wanted to thank for the support received from the municipality sphere and from members of the government, but also from people who "didn’t participate in the October 1 referendum”. "This is the greatness of democracy: that everyone can express themselves, think and say what they consider best for the country," said Solé after his hearing in court.
Members of the Government, headed by the Vice-President and acting President, Pere Aragonès, and the spokesperson and adviser to the Presidency, Meritxell Budó; the Speaker of Parliament, Roger Torrent; some twenty mayors and members of the civil society, such as Òmnium Cultural, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and municipal entities, accompanied the Foreign Minister to court this morning.
The prosecution asks for a one-and-a-half-year ban from public office and a fine of 24,000 euros, considering that he disregarded the ban imposed by the Constitutional Court to prevent the 1 October referendum and that he “allowed and collaborated” in the vote in Agramunt, where Solé was mayor at the time. The High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) alleges that on September 7, 2017, Solé enacted a mayoral decree in support of the referendum - as did hundreds of city councils in the country around Catalonia - and that on September 25 he participated in an event in favour of the referendum organized in the municipality of Agramunt and called on the citizens to exercise the right to vote.
Catalan Foreign Minister Solé faces the threat of being banned from office, like Catalonia’s President Quim Torra, who was banned from office this autumn for defending the freedom of expression. Solé is, therefore, the second member of the Catalan Government to go on trial at the High Court of Justice of Catalonia during this term. Moreover, a few days ago, the Supreme Court revoked the lowest prison category (the third degree) granted to the political prisoners, a technical decision endorsed by the penitentiary surveillance courts. More than 2,800 people have ongoing legal cases. Once the hearing is held, the TSJC will issue a ruling, which can ultimately be appealed to the Spanish Supreme Court.