Esquerra’s defendants have filed an appeal against the irregularities in the proceedings and submit that the deposits required of them are unconstitutional in nature, adducing absence of judicial oversight.
Party leader Oriol Junqueras and the other Esquerra Republicana defendants before the Court of Auditors have filed an appeal against the settlement imposed by this tribunal on June 30, for which they are required to deposit more than 4.5 million euros before 21 July as penalty for the activities of the Catalan Generalitat government’s foreign department between 2011 and 2017. If they do not do so, the Court will proceed with the seizure their assets.
The appeal calls on the Court of Auditors to raise a question of unconstitutionality against Articles 47 and 48 of the Law of the Court of Auditors, which obliges the defendants to defray millions of euros with no judicial oversight, leaving them defenceless in an adversarial proceeding prior to their alleged guilt being resolved, which may lead to their properties being seized if they are unable to meet the amount demanded. In short, the penalty is in practice imposed on them before trial.
According to the appeal, the procedure provided by articles 47 and 48 constitutes a breach of the right to effective judicial protection and is contrary to article 24 of the Constitution, which is why they have requested the proceedings be declared null and void. The defendants are in a clear situation of defencelessness – they cannot defend themselves if there is no trial – and also find themselves bared of presumption of innocence. This, says the appeal, not only goes against the Spanish Constitution but also against the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Among the causes of defencelessness, the appeal further details the arbitrariness with which the Court of Auditors defines the scope of the expenses that it considers illegitimate. According to the appeal, there are no objective criteria. In this regard, the text highlights that in any case all the expenses were incurred within the Generalitat’s constitutional responsibilities and affairs in matters of foreign action, as recognised by the Constitutional Court itself.
The appeal also includes other irregularities in the case before the Court of Auditors, such as the proceedings exceeding the maximum period of three months provided by law – which entails the annulment of the proceedings; the duplicity of proceedings in both the Court of Auditors and the Criminal Courts – which specifically affects former Minister Raül Romeva and former Secretary General of Institutional and Foreign Affairs and Relations, Aleix Villatoro; and the breach of European Parliamentary immunity in the case of MEP Jordi Solé.