Former Catalan minister of Labour and Social and Family Policy, Dolors Bassa, has stated that the 1 October referendum was not a "conclusive act". Bassa took the stand in the Catalan independence trial on Wednesday afternoon after former regional minister of the Territory and Sustainability, Josep Rull.
Bassa stated that the referendum was "one more act":
"The majority consensus was to hold a referendum as a means of institutional compromise between institutions and citizens. It was therefore one more act within the term in office. It was never a conclusive act, even less so for independence."
The former regional minister has stated that they did not breach the orders of the Constitutional Court and she argued that, with the suspension of the referendum law, she understood that there was a "conflict of interests" awaiting a solution, as had happened with other laws:
"I understood that we were faced with a legal conflict over areas of competence that would be transient, much like other conflicts over areas of competence in the Constitutional Court."
"I did not understand it as being a crime. I understood it as a conflict of interests, much like the Spanish government, which also failed to comply with some rulings. In my department, for example, there were practically 18 rulings of the Constitutional Court that the Spanish government had not complied with."
Like other accused parties, Bassa highlighted that the declaration of independence was a political act that was not published in official bulletins. Moreover, she added that it was "completely impossible" to avoid the control of the State over the accounts of the Catalan regional government and, therefore, it was likewise impossible to misuse public funds for the referendum:
"There was strict control, demanding, very demanding control, to the point that it was the Spanish government that paid creditors and, if anything other than the usual creditors appeared, we had to request the appropriate permission and authorisation."
Bassa answered the questions of both the State Attorney General and the Government Attorney's Office and made her statements in Spanish. At the beginning of question she announced that she joined the protest of the other accused who had given their statements until then due to simultaneous Catalan interpreting not being allowed.
"Dialogue, negotiations and agreements"
The former regional minister of the Interior has insisted on the fact that they sought out dialogue until the end, and she gave the attitude of president Puigdemont as an example of this determination:
"President Puigdemont spoke of the possibility of calling elections. He asked for guarantees that article 155 would not be applied, and he never received these guarantees; quite the contrary. We learned that certain members of the PP in public office are stating that article 155 will be applied no matter what happens. And the president asked the Parliament to do what it deemed best. He did not force the declaration of independence."
"A thousand ways of preventing a referendum without attacking the people"
The former regional minister explained that she was convinced that 1 October would be a peaceful day and has criticised police baton charges.
"They could have done a great many things, such as denaturing the result. They could have taken away the ballots once people had finished voting and nothing would have happened. I can think of a thousand ways of preventing the referendum without attacking the people that were there. I never thought I would see what I saw."
Responsibility of civic centres on the 1-O weekeend
Dolors Bassa stated that, on the weekend of 1 October, she took responsibility for the community centres due to the great amount of activities that had been planned and faced with the worries of some principals:
"Each request from the department requesting the activity was replied to with an email message stating: 'Very well, we authorise the activity, but keep the court and police orders in mind.'"
"It had nothing to do with 1 October at any moment. However, it does turn out that, on 1 October, the citizens of Catalonia were carrying out activities and required community centres to carry them out. I therefore granted them the competences for the weekend."
She answered the questions of the Government Attorney's Office, represented by Rosa María Seoane, by stating that she complied with the orders of the High Court of Justice, because she notified centres carrying out activities that no-one should remain there by 6:00 AM on October 1:
"I believe we complied with police and court orders. What I cannot do is to tell civil servants in the department to go to each community centre to see if they are fulfilled or not."
No expenses from 7 September onwards
The former regional minister pointed out that, since the suspension of the referendum law, "no new acts materialised" and the suspension of the electoral commission was complied with. She also stated that there were no expenses in the electoral processes heading in the budget:
"Not a single cent of this heading was spent due to the fact that it had been cancelled. No new acts materialised after the suspension of the law."
Faced with the email messages displayed to her by prosecutor Fidel Cadena to prove that the request of the Constitutional Court had been ignored, the former regional minister of Labour stated that they were prior to the suspension of the law.
She also defended that the transition law was passed while "always keeping the idea of an agreement in mind."
Support of the Catalan regional government to the national strike
Bassa drew a line between the general strike and the "national strike" that were called after 1 October. She stated that the Catalan regional government, as an institution, joined the national strike "much like the town halls of Reus or Terrassa, the business associations of Catalonia or the majority trade unions". She also stated that she laid down minimum services for the strike because, as she pointed out, it was her obligation to do so:
"The prosecution or the Attorney General's Office have misunderstood it, thinking it was intended as a means of publicity. Quite the contrary. [...]
The strike was called by four trade unions, CGT, IAC, COS and Intersindical. It was announced ten days in advance, as required for labour strikes, for 2 to 13 October. What was decreed, as always, was a minimum service order, as is the obligation of any regional minister or minister of Labour."
After an hour and a half of question from the parties to the prosecution, Bassa repeated that she would not answer the questions of the popular prosecution exerted by Vox, stating that she would not do so "out of respect for the women of Spain." After that, the defence counsel began questioning.
Bassa's defence counsel, Mariano Bergés, asked the former regional minister if, after the events of 20-S, any exceptional measures were adopted for 1 October:
"(Bergés) -Were there any plans to cut off communications? (Bassa) -No.
(Bergés) -And to occupy key points? (Bassa) -No.
(Bergés) -Or to detain people? (Bassa) -No, never.(Bergés) -Was there a plan to occupy public buildings? Did you assume violence? (Bassa) -Always, and I believe that these are not my thoughts or reality, but rather those of the entire government. We always said it had to be carried out peacefully and through agreements."
The State Attorney General's Office is asking for 16 years in prison for rebellion and misuse of public funds for Bassa, whereas the Government Attorney's Office is asking for 11 years and 6 months in prison for sedition and misuse of public funds, and Vox is also asking for 74 years in prison for rebellion, criminal organisation and misuse of public funds.
The sitting ended towards quarter to seven, and judge Marchena announced that questionings would continue after a 10-minute recess.
- Catalan independence trial