Marchena to Salellas over a testimony: "That is an insult towards the members of this court"Enoch Albertí's statement on the different types of rights to self-determination angers the presiding magistrate of the Court
Josep Maria Camps
On Thursday, Manuel Marchena accused attorney Benet Salellas of contempt towards the court he presides -the one that is judging the pro-independence leaders that stand accused of rebellion in the Supreme Court-.
The president of the court said so when Salellas was questioning a professor of constitutional law from the University of Barcelona, Enoch Albertí, who belonged to the advisory council that drafted the White Book of National Transition.
Enoch Albertí, at the Supreme court on Thursday.
When questioned by Salellas, from the defence counsel of Jordi Cuixart, who had requested the witness, Albertí described how the White Book analysed the right to self-determination in the case of Catalonia.
The professor drew a difference between "external" self-determination in colonised territories and "internal self-determination".
Marchena then cut him off and addressed Salellas:
"What we cannot do... I cannot passively allow this trial to become the dissertation of a professor in constitutional law. That is an insult towards the members of this Court."
"What we cannot permit, and you are aware of this, is that the trial should become a lesson from a professor in constitutional law to the magistrates of the Supreme Court on the external and internal dimensions of the right to self-determination."
"Consequently, please address your questions as you did initially, regarding the nature of the White Book, on whether it was a roadmap or whether it was not, and whether or not it was designed to inspire certain policies."
Salellas denied that it was his intention to insult the court, and he agreed with Marchena that witnesses cannot act as "legal experts".
To this end, he admitted that the Spanish legal system does not allow for this kind of expert testimony.
Lawyer Benet Salellas, speaking to Manuel Marchena on Thursday at the Supreme Court.
An "academic report", not a "roadmap"
Both Albertí and Joan Vintró, also a professor in constitutional law from the University of Barcelona and a member of the counsel that drafted the White Book, denied that these two documents were "a roadmap towards independence".
They both described it as an "academic report" to analyse the possible scenarios for the pro-independence process, and they insisted on the fact that it was under no circumstances a "document for political strategy".
To this end, Benet Salellas asked Vintró about a fragment in the White Book on "mobilised society" that appears in the writ of the prosecution, and the professor related it to "political legitimacy":
Salellas: "The writ of accusation from the prosecution contains a transcription of a paragraph that speaks of "mobilised society as a decisive factor to force negotiations with the State". Could you explain the context of this statement, with regard to which type of mobilisation and what kind of act of force is referred to in this specific passage of the White Book?"
Vintró: "The way we consider political mobilisation in the White Book has nothing to do with an act of coercion. It is, quite simply, the formulation of the need for any political objective or option with a certain transcendence to have the highest possible degree of political legitimacy. And, for this purpose, there is a need to raise both political awareness and political mobilisation to ensure said political legitimacy."
Marchena cuts off a second "legal expert witness"
In the questioning to vintró, attorney Olga Arderiu, the defence counsel of Carme Forcadell, took advantage of the fact that the witness was a legal counsel of the Parliament of Catalonia to ask him about how it works.
Specifically, she asked if the board of the Parliament could breach the Constitution by refusing to process a political initiative, and Marchena also cut her off.
He justified it by repeating that she was asking for a "legal expert witness statement":
Arderiu: "If not, could article 23 of the Constitution be infringed?"
Marchena: "The question is to use the testimony the witness may offer with regard to factual questions, to his participation in the white book... Everything he has reflected, in sum. But you are now asking him about whether or not certain decision infringed an article... You must understand that this is not proper."
Arderiu: "I take back the question, thoughthe witness was submitted as an attorney."
Marchena: "This is a question of... I would not like to use the word... inappropriateness of the question, namely, the question is not appropriate. You are asking whether or not there was a legal infraction of a precept of the regulations of Parliament. And that is to ask a legal expert witness statement that is to be considered by this Court in due time."
The defence counsel of Carme Forcadell, Olga Arderiu, at the Supreme Court on Thursday.
"These are questions that have been allowed from the prosecutions"
Marchena interrupted Arderiu again for another question to Vintró on the functioning of Parliament, and the lawyer complained that this type of questions were formulated by the prosecution without issues:
Arderiu: "Do popular legislative initiatives have specific requirements established in the specific laws to decide whether or not they are to be accepted for processing by the board?"
Marchena: "Here we are again with requirements for an initiative regulated by the regulations of Parliament, which is regulated in the..."
Arderiu: "But these are questions that have been allowed to the prosecution and by this attorney herself..."
Arderiu was ultimately not allowed to ask the question.
Joan Vintró, during his statement at the Supreme Court on Thursday.
- Catalan independence trial