Once the statements of the last witnesses in the Catalan Independence Trial have concluded, the expert witness phase began in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
During the morning sitting, the authors of an opinion requested by the State Attorney General and Government Attorney's Office that quantifies the monetary value of the use of polling stations on 1-O.
Confrontation between expert witnesses from the accusation and defence
This report, which would prove the crime of misuse of public funds, was drafted by Carlos Javier Irisarri, from the SEGIPSA company, and José Manuel Càmara, from the Ibertasa company.
They both gave statement at the same time as Jordi Duatis and Joan Güell, from the Professional Association of Architects of Catalonia, who had drafted a counter-opinion for the defence of Dolors Bassa, and the statement therefore became a confrontation of sorts.
As private buildings
When questioned by prosecutor Consuelo Madrigal, Cámara stated that they made the assessment as if the buildings used for the referendum were private and had been rented in accordance with their property registry value.
To this end, he explained that they used the surface of the buildings, the real estate value according to the municipality and the habitual use of the premises, among other criteria.
Irisarri justified the assessment by stating that it is possible to lease them:
"Money can be obtained with these premises, obviously. I wish they could be ceded to me free of charge, but that is not the case."
Prosecutor Consuelo Madrigal, interrogating the four expert witnesses on Thursday
Ownership was not taken into account
The expert witnesses from the defence replied that such an assessment did not make any sense as it mixed public and private buildings that are not on the lease market.
Specifically, Joan Güell said that buildings owned by the Generalitat, town halls, private buildings and buildings belonging to religious and sporting entities were used, and that "ownership, for an opinion of this nature, is essential."
The other expert witness from the defence, Jordi Duatis, added that the calculation requested by the parties to the prosecution assessed the total of the buildings, which were only used partially on 1-O:
"Using the land registry makes them assess the entire building, not only the space used for the vote."
He has also questioned that a 24-hour lease was established, whereas the polling stations were not open for even half that amount of time.
Architect Joan Güell, at the rightmost end, on Thursday, answering questions from the prosecution in the Supreme Court
"A reasonable value", according to the authors
Güell likewise added that the differences in real estate value within a given town were not taken into account, nor was the age of the buildings.
Cámara defended his work, stating that they did not calculate "a market value" but, rather, a "reasonable value". In any event, he admitted that a "mass assessment" of over 2,300 premises such as this one has its limits.
"No assessment is possible"
Government Attorney Rosa María Seoane asked the expert witnesses for the defence if they had made an alternative assessment, but Güell stated that such an assessment is not possible:
"Indeed, we have not made an alternative assessment because we believe that the task given to our colleagues cannot be assessed. Such an assessment is not possible because, I insist, public buildings owned by the Generalitat are not on the lease market."
Lucrum cessans and free cession
The attorney of Dolors Bassa, Mariano Bergés, who had requested the counter-opinion, asked the experts about the concept of "lucrum cessans", namely, the loss of value that would have taken place due to the use of the buildings on 1-O and that could reinforce the accusation of misuse of public funds.
Duatis stated that there is none in this case as no profits are lost due to not using the premises.
Josep Riba, the defence of Carles Mundó, asked the expert witnesses of the accusation if, in their report, they took into account the law that established the free cession of public premises, and they admitted that, if this were taken into account, there would be no costs.
A conceptual debate without any figures
Curiously enough, at no point in the statement of these expert witnesses was the monetary sum calculated in the report requested by the State Attorney General and Government Attorney's Office made explicit.
In previous writs submitted by the State Attorney General, it was stated that this figure could reach 900,000 Euros.
- Catalan independence trial