The battle of the banners continues

President Torra to take legal action against electoral commission and hangs third banner from government balcony

The row over banners and yellow ribbons will end in the courts. At 1pm, two hours before the deadline from the electoral commission (JEC), the second banner hanging from the front of the Catalan government building was removed. At the same time, president Quim Torra announced his intention to file a suit for “misconduct” against the JEC. The grounds for the suit are that the JEC’s orders “are clearly unfair because they are arbitrary”, given that it ordered a banner to be removed for committing an offence, but “sees no irregularity in the fact that a political party should campaign from the Supreme Court bench, where two JEC members sit in judgement of candidates in the general election”.

This was Torra’s response to the JEC’s announcement a day earlier that it will bring criminal proceedings for disobedience, which today saw the state prosecutor order the Catalan prosecutor to file a suit that could see Torra barred from public office for up to two years. This was on the basis of the JEC’s orders on March 11 and 18 that yellow ribbons - symbols in support of the independence leaders on trial - and Catalan independence flags must be removed from public buildings, after a complaint by the Ciutadans party. Torra pushed things to the limit, and on the advice of the Ombudsman, complied with the second order.

Torra also presented an official complaint yesterday against the JEC, in which he demanded an immediate suspension of its accords. And, a few minutes before 3pm, Torra ordered a new banner to be hung on the front of the building that read: “Freedom of opinion and expression. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. In a statement, the president said he would not give up “the defence of freedom of expression, whatever the consequences.”

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