There was some tense questioning to the secretary-general of the Comissions Obreres trade union in Catalonia, Javier Pacheco, during the Catalan independence trial. Judge Manuel Marchena repeatedly cut off attorney Marina Roig, the defence counsel of Jordi Cuixart, because he deemed that the questions led the witness to make "trade union-related assessments."
"This is pointless from the point of view of this court. Whatever Comissions Obreres thought about the dimension of the conflict exceeds the framework of these proceedings, in principle. Please ask another question."
Marchena issued a warning after Roig asked Pacheco about a number of tweets he published on 20S in which the trade union stated that the multiple police operation of those days implied "de facto, probably, the seizure of some of the institutions of Catalonia."
Upon seeing that the questioning went along the same path, the presiding magistrate of the Court scolded Roig for making them "waste time" and, when the attorney replied, Marchena made things clear:
"Do not answer back when I declare a question to be irrelevant. Please ask another question."
Marchena to Roig: "You have a problem"
Roig made a number of complaints and argued that she was not looking for political assessments, but rather that she was asking about documents the prosecution had not included in its writ.
The climax of the spat arrived when Marchena replied to Roig that she "had a problem" if she did not know what else to ask the witness:
"Marchena: The reports or statements issued by CCOO are unrelated to these proceedings. Please ask another question.
Roig: Your Honour, I object, because these facts appear in the writs of accusation. I am asking him about facts."
Marchena: Ask another question that does not invite the witness to make political or trade union-related assessments on the facts at hand. Please ask another question.
Roig: I am asking him about the contents of the document, which is a document used by the prosecution. If I cannot ask about the contents of a document, sincerely, I do not understand how I can defend my client.
Marchena: In that case, you have a problem."
Marchena insisted that the question could not advance with trade union-related assessments:
"The witness cannot come to the Supreme Court to read trade union manifestos on what happened on 1-O or what happened on 20 September."
Judge Marchena intervenes during the questioning of Pacheco by Roig
Marchena's "please ask another question" appeared again when the defence counsel of Cuixart asked Pacheco about the role played by CCOO in the National Pact for the Referendum. The judge highlighted that this fact is "irrelevant" to the court:
"It is irrelevant and I do not know how I could put it to you any more clearly. I am expressing the opinion of the entire court. This gentleman cannot come here to expound on the contents of a CCOO manifesto. This cannot be. And you are inviting him time and time again to explain the position of CCOO on this issue to this court; this is pointless. The position of CCOO is very respectable but it is irrelevant to us."
Roig highlighted that the National Pact for the Referendum "is an object of the prosecution writ" and Marchena answered that it is featured in the case and it will therefore be assessed by the court. "We do not need this gentleman to come and explain it to us," he replied.
Javier Pacheco, the secretary-general of CCOO in Catalonia, on the witness stand in the Supreme Court
When questioned by Mariano Bergés, the defence counsel of Dolors Bassa, Pacheco explained that the government did not call the country-wide strike of 3 October and that he did not receive any instructions from Dolors Bassa: "I did not receive them and would not have accepted them if I had."
Other calls to order from Marchena
The spat with Marina Roig was the tensest moment during Monday afternoon's sitting in the trial. Throughout the day, however, there were other times when the judge intervened.
Attorney Ana Bernaola during the questioning of Antoni Morral
For instance, when Member of Parliament for JxCat and former mayor of Cerdanyola del Vallès and secretary-general of the Crida Nacional per la República Antoni Morral commented on how the ANC functioned, when questioned by Ana Bernaola, the defence counsel of Jordi Sànchez.
"The organisation of the ANC is beyond the scope of this trial," warned Marchena. He drove the point home a few minutes later:
"Ms Bernaola, if you please, lead the questioning because we are witnessing an explanation of the functioning of the organisation that is no interest to the legal treatment of the facts."
Witness Pere Miralles, a member of the ANC and the coordinator of the volunteers on 20S also received a comment from Marchena.
The same attorney, Ana Bernaola, was asking him about whether or not the mobilisations of the ANC were related to the pro-independence world, and Miralles answered that they were also involved in actions such as the demonstrations protesting the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. "We were eager to attend them because we agree with peace and tolerance, values which we defend." Here Marchena cut him off:
"Let us see... Please abstain from making value judgments and highlighting rights we all share."
- Catalan independence trial