This Thursday were Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa. And this Friday it has been the turn for Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig. The former president of the Generalitat and Junts politicians have asked the Constitutional Court that two of its new judges, Enrique Arnaldo and Concepción Espejel, to step aside from the resources on the cause of the process for its “close relationship” with the PP.
In both writings, to which elDiario.es has had access, the defense of the politicians of Junts, which exercises the lawyer Gonzalo Boye, lists the reasons why, in his opinion, Arnaldo and Espejel lack the necessary impartiality to be part of the deliberations of the Constitutional on the process.
Puigdemont recalls that Arnaldo and Espejel have been proposed as magistrates by the PP, a party whose president, Pablo Casado, “has expressed a notorious interest” in the imprisonment of the accused pro-independence politicians. In these circumstances, the writings abound, “it is impossible to sustain” that Arnaldo and Espejel “can have any semblance of impartiality”.
With the challenges raised by pro-independence politicians, doubts about the suitability of Arnaldo and Espejel, who came to be removed from the trial of Gürtel for his proximity to the PP in his time at the National Court, return to the front page a few days after PP and PSOE closed the agreement to renew the Constitutional. Those of the procés are the first, but they may not be the only proceedings in which the parties ask to set aside Arnaldo and Espejel for the same reason: their proximity to the PP.
In the case of Arnaldo, Puigdemont and Junts politicians add that he signed, in September 2017, a manifesto called ‘Stop the coup’, which called for “the full weight of the law” to fall on the Govern for the 1-O referendum, which adds another reason for loss of impartiality.
Puigdemont also points out that Arnaldo considered “sick of sectarianism” those who disagreed with the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint for the crime of rebellion against Catalan politicians in 2017. The defense claims that there are “countless” times that Arnaldo has shown his “absolute lack of impartiality” on the case.
Another of the reasons for recusal adduced by the defense is that there is a relationship of “friendship” between Judge Arnaldo and the late Attorney General of the State, José Manuel Maza, who filed the complaints for rebellion in 2017, as well as with the president of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court, Manuel Marchena, the magistrate of the same Chamber Antonio del Moral, and the lawyer of the Central Electoral Board, Manuel Delgado-Iribarren.
Regarding Espejel, the brief points to her former position as president of the Criminal Chamber of the National Court, a position during which she had a direct or indirect involvement with some lawsuits of the cases that affect the recusants. It also mentions the “close ties” with the PP and its affiliation to the Professional Association of the Judiciary, which in his view has demonstrated an “excessive belligerence” against pro-independence politicians.
Moreover, Puigdemont places as a reason for recusal the particular vote that Espejel signed in his time at the National Court in favor of the conviction for sedition against the major Josep Lluís Trapero, although he does not ask that the magistrate who was rapporteur of his acquittal, Ramón Sáez, also promoted to the Constitutional after its recent renewal, be removed.
The Constitutional had already experienced a similar episode of recusals of two magistrates who had spoken in public acts on the process. After the recusals of the pro-independence politicians, the magistrates Cándido Conde-Pumpido and Antonio Narváez abstained from the sentences that endorsed the instruction, the trial and the conviction of the Supreme Court, with the particular vote of the progressive magistrates Juan Antonio Xiol and María Luisa Balaguer, who considered the prison sentences disproportionate.