Sáenz de Santamaría on wether the declaration of independence was published: "I don't know"The former deputy PM of the Spanish government states that she "never discussed" the 1-O referendum with "any member of the Catalan government"
Josep Maria Camps
The former deputy PM of the Spanish government Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría
After the testimonies of ERC Member of Parliament Joan Tardà and former president of the Catalan government Artur Mas, the next witness to take the stand in the Catalan independence trial in the Supreme Court was former deputy PM of the Spanish government Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.
Only the popular prosecution exerted by Vox had requested the testimony of Sáenz de Santamaría.
The Declaration of Independence of 27-O and article 155
The most relevant moment of the statement of the former deputy PM of Rajoy took place right at the end of the questionings, fostered by the lawyer of Carme Forcadell and Anna Simó, Olga Arderiu.
Arderiu asked her on wether the government to which she belonged and applied article 155 of the Constitution knew if the declaration of independence of October 27 had been published.
Sáenz de Santamaría tried to avoid the question, and actually ended up formulating it the president of the court, Manuel Marchena:
Olga Arderiu, advocada de Carme Forcadell, aquest dimecres interrogant Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría
Olga Arderiu: "All right, just one question: you said before that everything that is not published has no legal effect. So, I want to ask you: Do you know that the declaration of independence was not only not published? Furthermore, do you know that it was in the preamble and was not even voted?
Sáenz de Santamaría: (doubting) "Mr. Puigdemont received a requirement from the President of the Government in which he was crystal clear that he had to state whether or not he had declared independence, and I believe Mr. Puigdemont's response to be public."
Olga Arderiu: "I'm not talking about the 10th, I'm talking about the 27th, the day on which a motion for a resolution was voted in the Parliament."
Manuel Marchena: "Let's see, defense counsel, you actually said you only had one question."
Olga Arderiu: "All right, I'm just asking her, but she's not answering the question on wether she knew if it had been published."
Marchena: (To Sáenz de Santamaría) "Did you know if the declaration of independence was published?
Sáenz de Santamaría: (doubt) "... I don't know.
She never discussed the 1-O referendum with the Catalan government
The former deputy PM began by answering the questions of attorney Javier Ortega Smith, who is also the secretary-general of Vox.
Ortega asked her if she had ever held a meeting with anyone from the Catalan government, and se answered that she did not:
"I did not discuss the 1 October referendum with any member of the Catalan government"
Attorney and secretary-general of Vox, Javier Ortega Smith, in the Supreme Court on Wednesday
Junqueras only wanted to discuss the referendum
The former deputy PM declared that she met 3 times with the former deputy PM of the Generalitat (Catalan government), Oriol Junqueras. She stated that she rejected addressing the referendum, and assured that in their last meeting, Junqueras only wanted to discuss said referendum.
The defence counsel of Junqueras and Romeva, Andreu Van den Eynde, questioning Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría
Human "walls" and the police
When questioned by the defence counsel of Oriol Junqueras, Andreu Van den Eynde, on whether she had seen the police actions on 1-O and if she had found them to be violent, the former deputy PM said that nothing would have happened if "people had not been massively summoned":
"Look, not only throughout my life as a politician, but also as a simple citizen, I have seen images that take place as a consequence of riots."
"They are not pleasant, but I believe if people had not been massively summoned to act as human walls and to prevent those who were acting under court orders to prevent this referendum, perhaps some of those images would not have taken place. I was also informed that about 93 or 95 police and Guardia Civil officers received injuries. I was also informed of that."
"Violent harassment", not public scorn, against the police
When questioned by Van den Eynde about the police forces sent to Catalonia for the referendum, she stated that she found them to have been "very professional".
She also stated that, in some towns, police officers did not suffer public scorn, but "violent harassment":
"Look, I know what it is to be the object of public scorn, and that is not what was experienced in Catalonia, it was violent harassment. And I can tell you that because I know what it is."
A "rigorous" and "proportional" application of article 155
Previously, when questioned by prosecutor Javier Zaragoza about the application of article 155 of the Constitution, Sáenz de Santamaría stated that she did so "to maintain political understanding":
The former deputy PM said that she did not deem the declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament on 27 October was "symbolic" and that is why they applied article 155.
"What we did do when it came to applying article 155 was to take the following premises into account: firstly, the defence of sovereignty and national unity; secondly, to guarantee compliance with the law; thirdly, to do so always in the most rigorous fashion, with the highest degree of caution and proportionality in the defence of coexistence and finally, I deem this to be very importance, to maintain political understanding."
Article 155 in 2014
She stated that her government wanted "at least 8 groups or parties" to support it, and she said that there was much debate in the meetings they held to achieve it:
"At that time, some were saying that article 155 should have been applied in 2014, others said that article 155 should never be applied. Some of them evolved in their opinions on how article 155 should be."
On the police operation of the ministry of the interior to prevent the referendum, styled "Operation Copernicus", she said that she was not in charge of designing such operations.
When did they decide to send 6,000 police officers?
When questioned about the prosecution about when the Spanish government decided to send 6,000 police officers to Catalonia, the former deputy PM said that this decision was adopted on 22 September, that is, after the events of 20 S.
The defence counsel of Jordi Turull Josep Rull and Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Pina, later told her that the request to moor the ferry that was to host many of these police officers in the harbour of Palamós was filed on 19 September, before 20 S.
Pina insisted on this until Sáenz de Santamaría, after an intervention from the court, admitted that the decision had been adopted before that date, but she did not specify when:
Jordi Pina: "I believe my question is very clear. The witness answers the question of the prosecution thus: "on the 22nd, after what happened on the 20th, we decided to send a contingent to Catalonia." What I say to you, based on common sense, is: how is this possible, if the request to moor the ship that was to host these people, was filed, as it appears in the proceedings provided by me, on 19 September? I am asking this in case the witness wishes to correct her statement: did the government not adopt the decision to send the contingent before that date? Logically speaking."
Manuel Marchena: "The key is the moment when the decision was adopted."
Sáenz de Santamaría: "Well. As I said, when there was the change in the ministry of the Interior, replacing mister Jané with mister Forn, there was some concern about the actions of the Catalan government, in this ministry and the instructions to the Catalan police. From that moment onwards the government had to be ready for all scenarios, and the Ministry of the Interior had to be ready for them. And that is what it did. Doubtless, when this letter was sent on 22 September, it could reaffirm itself in this decision as we had experienced and seen what happened."
Jordi Pina: "Should I understand, therefore, that you had adopted this decision prior to the 19th? Yes or no? If you do not know..."
Sáenz de Santamaría: "We, the Ministry of the Interior, must have the capacity to anticipate future events."
- Catalan independence trial