The State Attorney General asks that the person in charge of promotion of the Catalan government be charged with perjuryJaume Mestre denied having ordered the Catalan Corporation of Audiovisual Media to carry out the referendum campaign
Josep Maria Camps
Jaume Mestre, in charge of institutional promotion of the Catalan government, in the Supreme Court on Wednesday
The first witness to take the stand on Wednesday in the Catalan in the Catalan independence trial has been Jaume Mestre, who has been in charge of Institutional Promotion of the Catalan government in the Department of the Presidency since February 2016.
While attempting to prove that there was misuse of public funds in the preparation and organisation of the 1 October referendum, prosecutor Jaime Moreno asked him about the institutional campaigns carried out by the Catalan government in 2017.
Mestre has stated that the campaign called "Civisme" was ordered in late August and was ultimately not carried out after the two companies that were to take on the job, Carat and Focus, renounced to do so.
Prosecutor Jaime Moreno, interrogating Jaume Mestre in the Supreme Court on Wednesday
"The advertisement with the train tracks"
Moreno asked him about the "advertisement with the train tracks" regarding the referendum that was aired by several Catalan media outlets, but Mestre stated that he had nothing to do with its contracting.
Specifically, the prosecutor asked him about the airing of the advert through media in the Catalan Corporation of Audiovisual Media, including TV3, and the witness simply said that he saw it on television.
Moreno then told him that the person who was then in charge of the Catalan Corporation of Audiovisual Media, Núria Llorach, had stated that he was the person who had placed the order during the investigation phase, but Mestre denied it:
Jaime Moreno: "Is it not true that you went to deal personally with Núria Llorach, the president of the Catalan Corporation of Audiovisual Media, to have this advert aired?"
Jaume Mestre: "No."
Jaime Moreno: "Are you aware that Núria Llorach has stated before Pablo Llarena, the investigating judge in this case, that it was you who placed the order?"
Jaume Mestre: "No."
Moreno insisted and asked him whether or not the campaign had been paid by the Catalan government, but Mestre insisted, using evasive answers, that he did not know about it and had nothing to do with it.
Marchena: "There is more to perjury than simply not telling the truth"
At this point, the presiding magistrate of the court, Manuel Marchena, told Mestre that he could be "committing a criminal offence":
"Mister Mestre, in the Criminal Code, there is more to the crime of perjury than simply not telling the truth. Allow me to read you the wording of article 460 of the Criminal Code. It states: "Testimony that is not substantially false, but that alters the truth with reservations, inaccuracies or by silencing relevant facts acknowledged to it, shall constitute a criminal offence."
"The Court has not assessed your testimony, nor is it yet empowered to assess your testimony, because your testimony must be cross-referenced with other sources of evidence in order to reach a conclusion as to whether or not you are telling the truth, but it is obvious that you are dodging some questions."
After the complaints from some of the defence counsels on how the prosecutor was carrying out the interrogation, he asked again whether or not the campaigns aired by the Catalan Corporation of Audiovisual Media were paid for, and Mestre insisted that he did not know.
The prosecutor asks for Mestre to be charged with perjury
At this point, Moreno concluded his questioning by asking the court to open proceedings against Mestre on the grounds of perjury, but Marchena told him that, for that, he would have to wait for the sentence to be issued:
Jaime Moreno: "No more questions, your honour; however, I plead that the court bring charges of perjury before the magistrates' court."
Manuel Marchena: "The Court has issued its warning and, obviously, the material decision of bringing charges on the veracity or lack thereof of the statement must be taken in the sentence in view of the cross-referencing of other statements and documents, of all other sources of evidence. Should it then be concluded that he made any statements that ran contrary to his duty to tell the truth, charges may be brought against him before the magistrates' court. We cannot make an early assessment of evidence due to the fact that we are unaware, beyond the inaccuracies or the questions he answered evasively, we are not exactly aware of whether or not he told the truth."
At the request of attorney Andreu Van den Eynde, Marchena has guaranteed that Mestre's testimony before the Supreme Court will not be used against him in criminal proceedings.