Spain: Scholars at Risk concerned about prosecution of 4 academics and a lawyer

October 25, 2018

Scholars at Risk - Protecting scholars and the freedom to think, question, and share ideas

On October 25, 2018, a Court charged four professors, along with a lawyer, with “disobedience” and “usurpation of functions,” for accepting appointments to serve on an electoral commission for Catalonia’s independence referendum in September 2017. If convicted, they would face up to two years and nine months’ imprisonment.

On September 6, 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia passed the Law on the Referendum on Self-determination of Catalonia. Its passage required the establishment of an electoral commission that would oversee the referendum. The five commission members appointed included four academics — Jordi Matas and Marc Marsal, of Universitat de Barcelona; Tània Verge, of Universitat Pompeu Fabra; and Josep Pagès, of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona — and lawyer Marta Alsina. All five accepted their appointments. Shortly thereafter, a public prosecutor charged the commission members with “disobedience,” “misappropriation of public funds,” and “usurpation of functions.”

Nearly two weeks before the referendum was scheduled to take place, the Spanish government challenged its legality. On September 20, the Spanish Constitutional Court issued a judgment imposing a 12,000 Euro daily fine to each member of the electoral commission until they resigned. They did so on September 22, one day before the fine would go into effect.

2018-10-25 Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


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