Santi Vila: "We could all have been more responsible"
Former Catalan minister of Entrepreneurship and Knowledge Santi Vila on Thursday in the Supreme Court

Santi Vila: "We could all have been more responsible"

The former Catalan minister, who stands accused of disobedience and misuse of public funds, states that the 1-O referendum "mutated" into a mobilisation, and that this was a "majority sentiment" among the Catalan government

Josep Maria Camps Updated
Catalan independence trial

The sixth sitting of the Catalan independence trial began at 10 AM on Thursday with the statements the former Catalan minister of Entrepreneurship and Knowledge Santi Vila.

The statement started in a timely fashion with the questions of prosecutor Fidel Cadena after Vila confirmed that he would answer questions from the State Attorney General and the Government Attorney's Office but not from Vox.

Answering Cadena's questions, Vila explained that the government headed by Carles Puidemont was under a lot of pressure to adopt unilateral decisions.

This pressure, he stated, increased during the summer of 2016 and Puigdemont announced, "to the surprise of many", that he would hold a referendum, with the formula "Either a referendum, or a referendum".


Prosecutor Fidel Cadena on Thursday during the trial in the Supreme Court


Vila stated that he deemed that this meant that "an attempt would be made to agree to some kind of consultation that would give an outlet" to the aspirations of pro-independence citizens.

"The referendum mutates into a political mobilisation"

However, he added that, once the decree calling the referendum was signed on 6 September 2017, and the Constitutional Court suspended it, he no longer deemed it a referendum:

"From the moment in which the Constitutional Court suspended it, the Catalan government adopted decisions that were in line with this suspension. Indeed, please notice that, from the moment in which the Constitutional Court suspended the referendum law and decrees, the Electoral Commission fell immediately, and all initiatives that could have been adopted fell, as my former fellow ministers have stated, and the referendum clearly mutated from a referendum into a large political mobilisation, which was full of meaning but which I never acknowledged as a referendum."


The parties to the accusation in the Catalan independence trial on Thursday in the Supreme Court.


On 1-O "2 and a half million Catalans stayed home"

With regard to what happened on 1 October, Vila has stated that he never deemed the results to be a democratic mandate.

The former Catalan minister has stated that this was the "feeling" of the "majority" of the government headed by Puigdemont:

"Some acknowledge 1 October as a referendum, a mobilisation that binds them and compels them. Some of us, however, are convinced that what happened on 1 October was a very significant mobilisation of over 2 million citizens in favour of independence, but that there were also over 2 and a half million Catalans, who are just as Catalan, who stayed home and saw a political mobilisation that said nothing to them, quite the contrary. Some of us felt that it was the duty of the government to govern for all."

"I honestly believe that this was the feeling of the majority in the government."



As he explained, in the weeks following 1 October, he sought to find a solution to avoid conflict:

"Under these circumstances, we opened... it would be excessive to call them negotiations, but I believe it would be accurate to say that we began an approach with political interlocutors, with religious interlocutors, with interlocutors from the world of business, from institutions who, generously and in good faith, wanted to avoid the absurdity of all this ending badly."

"I was a part of that and I am proud to say that I believe that we had achieved it on 25 october. And we went to bed, and quite a few people will bear witness to that when the witnesses give testimony."

"I do not want to grasp all the merit as I will never know which other actors participated in the attempt at conciliation at the time, but I was one of the politicians who remained constantly in touch with leaders of the Spanish Socialist Party and with Catalan Socialist Party leaders and with other leading figures, including office holders in the Spanish government who, unlike what is sometimes published, were also very interested in conciliation, avoiding institutional clashes and deescalating tension."

Vila, que s'ha definit com "un animal molt poc gregari" i "molt poc amant de les manifestacions", ha afirmat que va dimitir el 26 d'octubre perquè va considerar que les seves gestions no havien Vila, who defined himself as "not much of a herd animal" and "not a fan of demonstrations", stated that he resigned on 26 October because he felt that his actions had failed.èxit.



"We could all have been more responsible"

The former Catalan minister has said that he resigned "in frustration", and he added that, on those days, he felt a lack of leaders to take responsibility for the situation:

"We could all have been more responsible. I agree, but the relevant part is that, during those weeks of October, many of us took on the commitment to attempt to avoid, first of all, the suspension of self-government."

"Because here was the threat with which the Spanish parliament, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, as well as the government of Spain, were warning us: 'Do not go down this path or we will suspend self-government, and there are those who promise independence but will instead end up without political autonomy.'"

"I resigned in frustration due to having attempted to redirect this conflict and failed and, moreover, I had the impression that we were failing due to our inability to calm down the people on our side."

Vila has added that this lack of responsibility was not limited to pro-independence politicians, but also to the Spanish government.


Related interactive resource: The keys of the catalan independence trial


A crowded agenda

After the statement by Santi Vila, former ANC president Jordi Sànchez took the stand. The only people left on the list of accused parties who have yet to take the stand are president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, and former speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell.

The presiding magistrate of the court, Manuel Marchena, intends to begin with the first witness statements on Tuesday next week, including that of Mariano Rajoy. In order to follow this schedule, Sànchez, Cuixart and Forcadell will have to give their statements first.

Since Marchena has already confirmed that there will be no sitting on Friday, the only option left is to hold trial on Monday so that Sànchez, Cuixart or Forcadell may make their statements so that the witness questionings begin on time on Tuesday 26.

Accusations and sentence requests

The State Attorney General's Office and the Government Attorney's Office accuse Santi Vila of misuse of public funds and disobedience. The State Attorney General is asking for 7 years in prison and a fine of 30,000 Euros, and the Government Attorney is asking for 7 years in prison but no fine.

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