Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó
Catalan officials arrested on 20 September 2017 by Spanish police in raids over referendum while direct rule on Catalonia from Madrid was being implemented.
Police raided several buildings including economy, foreign affairs, telecoms, social affairs, and presidency. They were searching for computer equipment and any documentation linked to the planned vote on 1st October.
On the 20th of September 2017 Spanish police raided Catalan government ministries and detained 12 officials, among them Lluís Salvadó, the treasury secretary, and Josep Maria Jové, general secretary of the Finance Department. This operation targeting 40 ministries and offices, as well as three private companies, was a dramatic intensification of Spain’s attempt to stop the Self-determination vote going to take place on 1st October.
Police raided several buildings including economy, foreign affairs, telecoms, social affairs, and presidency. They were searching for computer equipment and any documentation linked to the planned vote on 1st October. Previous raids had targeted sites suspected of holding electoral material. In reaction thousands of Catalans took the streets in protest and gathered outside the economy ministry as the police operation was taking place. Catalan leaders called for peaceful resistance.
Mr. Salvadó and Mr. Jové, together with other 12 officers, were arrested and detained for two and a half days. They have been investigated by the Spanish Police for several months and they are now pending trial.
The origin of the investigation is a claim brought by VOX (an extreme right wing political organization). The claim was admitted on February 2017 by First instance Court 13 of Barcelona, against the ex-judge, Santi Vidal, the treasury secretary Lluís Salvadó and jurist Carles Viver Pi-Sunyer. They had been investigated for several months while the case was under secrecy.
On 22nd September 2017, Mr. Jové and Mr. Salvadó were released after refusing to testify. Nevertheless, they were charged with misuse of public funds, obstructing the course of justice, revelation of secrets and sedition, which comes with prison sentences of up to 15 years.
In April 2018, the magistrate of the Court 13 of Barcelona asked the Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena to include Mr. Jové and Mr. Salvadó in the global cause for rebellion against various members of the Catalan Government including its President, Mr. Carles Puigdemont. However, on 8th May he refused to do so and brought the case to Spain’s High Court in Catalonia (TSJC), a key step before sending them to trial, as they are granted immunity as members of the Catalan Parliament. The case has included recently the current Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès, also MP for pro-independence Esquerra (ERC) party. The TSJC has to make a decision on the matter.
The defence counsel has called for the case to be closed as it argued that “the investigation ordered by the Barcelona’s Court number 13 has developed into a general political cause against the Catalan Independentist Movement which is an illegal situation within the rule of law”. It started with a report presented by the extreme right-wing party VOX, on a speech given by the senator and former judge Mr. Santiago Vidal. It became the judicial origin for the imprisonment of the two Catalan independentist movement leaders, Mr. Jordi Sànchez and Mr. Jordi Cuixart and it has had placed under prosecution about other 50 people, most of them working as public officials within the Catalan government.
Mr. Salvadó and Mr. Jové are awaiting trial and suffering a prosecution that may last for a long period of time.
The judicial process has been developing with systematic irregularities from the beginning. According to the defense of the arrested Catalan officers, there aren’t enough guarantees of a fair trial. These are the main irregularities reported by the defense:
1. The judge in charge of the Barcelona Court number 13 has been investigating Mr. Jové and Mr. Salvadó until July 2018, although he had no competence to do so. They have been members of the Catalan parliament from 20th December 2017 and therefore they should enjoy parliamentary immunity and they should have the right to a special court.
2. The arrested officers presented a petition for habeas corpus and the lawyers defending them rejected the judge. The petition was refused. The defense lawyers stated that the judge who had to decide was the one on duty at that moment, but instead it was the same judge who initiated the police operation the one who decided about it.
3. The investigation has been under secrecy from the start. Two months ago, the defense presented an appeal against the secrecy in the summary proceedings, but when the detentions took place the appeal had not yet been resolved. There is a lack of information and it hasn’t been made public, which is the exact issue being investigated.
4. The lawyers of the defense had serious difficulties to assist their clients. The Spanish Police didn’t communicate the arrests to the Barcelona Bar Association. Therefore the lawyers were not able to assist their clients until a few hours later. The Spanish Police had access to some of the personal devices of the arrested officials, such as the mobile phones, while their lawyers were not present.
5. The Catalan Council of Lawyers denounced irregular searches in several lawyers’ offices, infringing the right to professional secret and the protection of private data of the citizens.
6. Many of the prosecuted were under telephone tapping and police follow-up without justified evidences, involving people who were not even part of the investigation.
7. The results of the police’s search in the house and office of the different people being prosecuted have been the result of to the request to the court of VOX (an extreme right-wing political organization). The same occurred with the different telephone tappings, including private conversations not even related to the cause under investigation. Some of these telephone tappings have been delivered to the media and have been published, being decontextualized and even manipulated. According to the Spanish Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 12), no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
– On the raids to Catalan Government premises by Spanish police:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/20/spain-guardia-civil-raid-catalan-government-hq-referendum-row (in English)
– Anger in Barcelona after Spanish police arrest Catalan minister and 12 officials in raids over referèndum:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/20/spanish-police-arrest-catalan-junior-economy-minister-morning/ (in English)
– Catalonia referendum: Spain steps up raids to halt vote
//www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41331152 (in English)
– Are the arrests irregular?https://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/138770/son/irregulars/detencions/cinc/claus/questionen/ofensiva/judicial/contra/1-o (in Catalan)
– Last six arrested officials walk free:
– The investigation’s judge refuses to include Salvadó and Jové in the case of rebellion:
– Manifesto of the General Council of Catalan Lawyers on the irregular actions of Spanish police forces of 20th September 2017 and about democratic guarantees.
http://www.cicac.cat/2017/09/manifest-consell-ladvocacia-catalana-relacio-als-greus-fets-que-sestan-produint-catalunya/ (in Catalan)