Catalonian president to face trial for disobedience

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 15, 2019 Catalan President Quim Torra arrives at the TSJC (Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia) in Barcelona to be questioned by a judge over disobedience charge. The separatist president of Catalonia is to be tried for disobedience after he refused to remove symbols of his movement from public buildings, the Spanish region's high court said on July 12, 2019

The separatist president of Catalonia will be tried for disobedience after he refused to remove symbols of his movement from public buildings, the Spanish region's high court said Friday.

Catalonia's highest tribunal said in a statement it would launch proceedings against Quim Torra "for the offence of disobedience," but gave no court date.

Prosecutors in the northeastern Spanish region have called for Torra to be declared ineligible for public office for 20 months, which would make it impossible for him to remain president of the region.

In an interview with online paper Publico, Torra called the move to take him to court a manifestation of a "political will to win in the courts what the state does not win at the ballot box."

Torra conceded that, "yes, I disobeyed," but in the name of freedom of expression.

"Every right they refuse us we shall exercise anew," he vowed.

In March, Spanish electoral authorities ordered Torra to remove separatist symbols from public buildings to respect institutional neutrality ahead of parliamentary elections.

They objected in particular to a banner outside the Catalonian regional government headquarters that read "Freedom for political prisoners and exiles" next to a yellow ribbon indicating support for detained Catalan separatist leaders.

They are to be tried for leading a failed attempt in 2017 to secede from Spain.

The Catalan government ignored two deadlines to take the banner down before finally ceding just before a planned police intervention.