The State does not want any ballot box on the First of October and thus, differently from the 9th of November consultation, it wishes to stop the referendum on its preparatory phase and by all means possible. After warning that not only political officers but also civil servants would be prosecuted, should they co-operate with the polling, the threat is now a reality. For the last two weeks, the Guardia Civil [gendarme corps] has called public workers and service providers for the Catalan government which participated in the creation and diffusion of the web of the National Pact for the Referendum, which collected adhesions for a consultation agreed with the Spanish Government. This case is different to that against the Minister for Governation Meritxell Borràs and her former number two, Francesc Esteve. Yesterday, according to Government sources, the responsible for social networks of the Executive and some employees of the company which fashioned the website were brought to the Guardia Civil barracks in Barcelona for questioning. As of now, seven people have given their statements.
As well, yesterday also appeared before the police an employee of the diffusion area of the Catalan Government, which hangs from the Presidency Department, about the registry of Catalans abroad, and some workers of the advertising agency which dealed with the diffusion campaign. The ad consisted of a map of Catalonia and the question “Yes or No?”, referring to the political future of Catalonia but the referendum was not mentioned.
According to sources knowledgeable on the investigation, in the interrogations, three members of the Guardia Civil were present and public workers were asked on who gave orders and what were their actions. After the interrogatories, the police will make a report which shall be sent to the judge. The Government had no official knowledge of which investigation stirred such questionings.
The Guardia Civil did not make it clear under which mandate it was acting, and sources of the gendarmerie only stated that they are “under orders of judges and prosecutors”. Sources from the public prosecution office, however, did say that the Guardia Civil acted about a classified case which stemmed from the dennounce against the former judge Santi Vida, the Chairman of the Institute for Self-Government Studies, Carles Viver Pi i Sunyer and the Public Treasury secretary, Lluís Salvadó.
The public prosecution office, which opened an investigation when it took notice of the registry and the agreement to buy ballots and envelopes, decided not to present a case against the judge in order to group all investigation on the preparations for the referendum in only one case. This case which, in principle, was destined to understand whether the Government had illegally obtained fiscal data, as stated Vidal, will now include the preparations for the polling. Only the buying of ballot boxes is being investigated by the High Court of Justice of Catalonia since it affects a Catalan minister, who enjoy parliamentary immunity.
From the pro-sovereignty ranks, it is understood that the cause is a part of the “fear campaign” towards public workers so that they do not get involved with the referendum -considered to be illegal by the Constitutional Court-. Premier Carles Puigdemont, in fact, strengthened through twitter his compromise with the referendum. “Nor those willing to spook civil servants nor box hunters will be able to scare away the millions of citizens who want to vote”. Government sources admit that “no-one enjoys” having to declare before the Guardia Civil. Even though the first subpoenas have arrived, the way to the 1st of October goes on.
Source: Ara, 29th of June, 2017
Authors: Núria Orriols and Mireia Esteve
Source for photo: Marc Rovira