Asens: "Our commitment towards October 1 was very clear, unlike what they say"The attorney, an alderman in the Barcelona town hall and elected Member of Parliament, admits that he issued a call for civil disobedience and states that he witnessed "situations of panic and anxiety" on October 1
Jaume Asens on the witness stand before the Supreme Court
The commitment of the Barcelona Town Hall with October 1ctober was "very clear", according to the statement of attorney, alderman for Citizen's Rights in Barcelona and elected member of parliament Jaume Asens in the Catalan independence trial.
Asens, who spoke to several injured on that day, explained that the town hall led by Ada Colau offered legal and psychological assistance to the injured and defended the town hall's commitment towards October 1.
"Our commitment towards October 1 was very clear, unlike what some people have said. Our town hall is one of those that have done so the most unambiguously, despite the fact that it does not belong to the AMI (Association of Town Halls in favour of Independence)."
Called as a witness by the defence counsel of Jordi Cuixart, the president of Òmnium Cultural, Asens explained that, on the morning of October 1, he visited several polling stations to get a feel of the mood, and he said that he and his party, Barcelona en Comú, understood the vote as "a means to exert pressure to restore dialogue."
Among the places he visited on October 1 he highlighted the Ramon Llull school, where Roger Español was blinded by a rubber bullet. He went there, alarmed by the tension there was, in an attempt to "act as an interlocutor with the commander of the operation", but it was not to be. Asens described what he witnessed there as a situation of "panic and anxiety":
"I saw baton charges that looked indiscriminate to me. I saw injured people, blows struck at defenceless people and, during the officers' withdrawal, I saw them use firearms and fire rubber bullets without prior warning and, I believe, not in the range established by regulations. This gave rise to situations of panic and anxiety."
Asens described October 1 as "a mobilisation with the appearance of a referendum" and he argued that it was a "legitimate exercise" because "there were not only moral and political reasons" to vote, but also "legal reasons, as we were being faced with an abuse of the law, in our view."
Asens admitted that he incited citizens to "carry out actions of civil disobedience" as a way to demand the restoration of the "territorial agreement and the bilateral relations that had been broken by the government and the Constitutional Court."
Judge Manuel Marchena interrupted the questioning of lawyer Àlex Solà, the defence counsel of Cuixart, several times, because he deemed that the questions being asked to the witness did not seek a description of facts but, rather, personal assessments.
Attorney Àlex Solà formulating an objection after Marchena ruled one of his questions to be inappropriate
For instance, when the defence counsel asked him if the En Comú party felt that it was a "co-participant" in the 20-S mobilisations:
"This is absolutely beyond the scope of this trial. Please ask another question and, if you wish, formulate an objection, but my decision is clear cut. We cannot accept a debate on the political attitude of each party with regard to this affair."
Solà formulated an objection and complained about not being able to argue it before the Court:
"I understand that, if I cannot formulate the reason of the objection, my right to defence is being violated."
Faced with the various clashes, Marchena pointed out that the witness had to "describe, not give an opinion", and he reproached that the attorney was asking for "value judgments"
Marchena cuts off complaints over Vox
Manuel Marchena did not allow Asens to argue his distate for Vox
The judge also intervened when the elected Member of Parliament for En Comú began to answer questions from far-right party Vox, which exerts the private prosecution. Asens began to say that he was answering them because he was compelled to and Marchena cut off his microphone: "Accept your obligation and answer."
Asens replied that he wanted to "express his discomfort" for having to answer to this party and Marchena cut him off again: "Please do feel comfortable and answer due to legal imperatives."
The former president of the harbour authority says that permission was not requested to moor the "Piolín" ship
During Monday's session, former secretary of Infrastructure and former president of the Catalan harbour authority Ricard Font also took the witness stand. As former minister Josep Rull, who is currently on trial already did, Font explained that nobody formally requested permission from the Generalitat to moor the vessel Moby Dada, the so-called "Piolín" ship, in the harbour of Palamós.
The "Piolín" ship, which hosted part of the police reinforcements lodged in Barcelona harbour
According to him, they were not notified that it was a State vessel, which would have compelled to accept it; rather, he said that they learned about the fact on the following day, from the media.
The harbour in the Empordà only received an email message asking if it would be possible to moor the vessel there for 20 days to repair the cabins. Font answered that there was no precedent for operations of this nature in Palamós.
The witness stated that Rull merely "deemed himself to have been informed" in this entire episode.
268.000 Euros in damages to schools on October 1
The Supreme Court heard, in the same session, that a report from the Generalitat assessed damages to schools on 1 October 2017 for the amount of 268.000 Euros. Current secretary of the Department of Education, Núria Cuenca, explained this in the Catalan independence trial, stating that the damages "were located in those schools where the police intervened":
"All damages caused during the day were accounted for. They matched those centres where the police operated. I am not aware if they were directly caused by the police."
On 2 October 2017, the same department assessed the damages at 314.000 Euros.
Núria Cuenca is the secretary-general of the Department of Education since June 2018
With regard to the activities organised in the schools prior to the referendum, Cuenca defended that the Education Act of Catalonia allows for the organisation of "social, cultural and sports" activities outside class hours. Prosecutor Jaime Moreno asked her if she was aware of any precedents when activities took place over the course of the entire weekend, and the witness replied that, with regard to high schools, "it would be difficult for me to know as they are not required to notify the department."
- Catalan independence trial