Spain’s former King Juan Carlos, who is currently under investigation for corruption and money laundering, pressured the Spanish government in order to get special favorable treatment, according to Spanish political figures.
In an interview for La Sexta network, the former Minister of Defense José Bono (PSOE) revealed how the former monarch pressured him to replace the then-head of the General Staff of the Army Luís Alejandre. When Bono refused, the monarch complained to the then Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero about the situation, despite the fact that the Spanish Constitution declares the monarchy and the executive branch must be separate and free of interference.
Juan Carlos also called Bono during his time as speaker of the Congress (2008-2011) to thank him after certain delicate parliamentary questions were rejected before they could be raised in the house.
Former Minister Margallo (PP) admitted pressures by the former king, but defended him for his “intense patriotism” and asked for the monarch to be judged for alleged corruption and money laundering “on balance,” considering that he was “key for the consolidation of democracy” in Spain.
Catalonia would vote “Yes” for Independence if a referendum were held today, according to the latest poll published by the Institute of Political and Social Sciences (ICPS), which is affiliated with the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
It showed that 44.4% of Catalans would vote “Yes”, 33.3% would vote “No”, 18.5% would abstain, and 3.3% do not know or would not answer. However, among those who would decide to go to the polls, 56.7% would vote “Yes” and 42.6% would vote “No”.
The ICPS survey also indicates that, in the preferences on the state model, 38.1% prefer an independent Catalonia, 25.9% would prefer Catalonia to be an autonomous community of Spain, and 19.4% would prefer Catalonia to remain a state within federal Spain.
Considering the individual political parties, most of the members of JxCat, ERC and CUP want the process to end with independence, while those of PSC and els Comuns would opt for increased self-government, and those of C,s and PP simply would like the process to end, although C,s voters are quite divided and almost half would also like an increase in self-government.
Tomorrow Monday, November 16th, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs will start discussing whether to lift the immunity of Catalan leaders Puigdemont, Ponsatí and Comín. This comes at the request of Spanish authorities, who have openly expressed their desire to have them extradited in order to jail them for their roles in the 2017 independence referendum, even though Belgian justice recently rejected the extradition of exiled Catalan leader Lluís Puig arguing that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to issue a European arrest warrant against him.
The ultra-conservative Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki will be the head of the committee and will present the case, which will then be discussed by the rest of MEPs on the committee.
Monday’s session will be held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions. Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí will be summoned for a hearing at a later date. The debate on their immunity is expected to last for several months.
In the event Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí lose their immunity, they would still remain MEPs until a potential extradition and conviction barring them from office takes place.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International called once again for the immediate and unconditional release of jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, thus bringing an end to the “injustice” they have been suffering for three years, during which they have been in prison.
The two pro-independence activists were jailed for their roles in the 2017 independence push, when they held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Ministry of the Economy. Both Sànchez and Cuixart were leaders of civic organizations, ANC and Òmnium, at the time of their jailing and were not members of any political party that carried out the 2017 independence referendum.
Amnesty considers their imprisonment “disproportionate” and that it “violates their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.” The organization presented a technical report in 2019 based on international law that points out the “vagueness” of the crime of sedition for which Cuixart and Sànchez were convicted and states that Spain’s state powers “have the opportunity to correct the effects of an unjust sentence against human rights.”
The writ was presented to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Constitutional Court, the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for Constitutional and Human Rights.
After the publication of the report, Jordi Sànchez remarked that “freedom of expression protected him while demonstrating in front of the Ministry of the Economy on September 20, 2017” and that “his arrest, accusation, and conviction had no legal basis.” Meanwhile, Cuixart called on Spain’s PM, Pedro Sánchez, to “comply” with international law and act to free the prisoners.
The Spanish Civil Guard has named the new operation against the Catalan pro-independence movement “Volhov,” the name of a Russian river near the city of Novgorod, where the Spanish fascist Blue Division under Nazi command won a battle against the Soviet Union in 1941.
The unblocking of the river allowed the Nazi Army to consolidate positions and launch an offensive to the east, and so the Germans occupied the towns of Smeissko, Sitno, Tigoda and Petrovskoye.
Between 1941 and 1943, about 50,000 Spanish soldiers took part in several battles on the Eastern Front, all as part of the Siege of Leningrad. The Blue Division was a unit of volunteer Spaniards that fought in favor of Hitler during World War II, mainly on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union’s Red Army. It participated in several battles, much acclaimed today by Franco’s supporters and the far-right ultras: Krasni Bor, the Battle of Possad and the Battle of Volhov.
On Wednesday, the Spanish National Court acquitted the former Catalan leadership of the Catalan police: Chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Superintendent Teresa Laplana, the former Secretary-General of the Department of Interior Cèsar Puig and the former Director-General of the Mossos Pere Soler for their role in the 2017 independence referendum.
The public prosecutor was asking for 10 years in prison for Trapero, Puig and Soler for sedition or alternatively twenty months of disqualification for the crime of disobedience. For Laplana, the prosecutor asked for four years in prison for sedition or one year of disqualification for disobedience. The Public Prosecutor’s Office will now study the ruling and decide whether to appeal it.
The judgment dismantles the main arguments against the political prisoners
The verdict was based on the lack of proof that any of the defendants violated the rulings of the Constitutional Court, the Spanish High Court in Catalonia or the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It also states that it has not been proven that the defendants agreed with the government to promote the “passivity” of the Catalan police during the 2017 independence referendum.
The verdict also contradicts the sentences given to the political prisoners for sedition. It states that the Catalan police acted with proportionality, congruence and opportunity during the referendum because in case of having “used violence the situation in polling stations could have led to serious public disorder.” As for the events of September 20, 2017, the resolution details that the protest, for which Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart are imprisoned, took place “without major violent incidents during the morning and afternoon, besides the ‘destruction’ of a few cars.”
Some 66.5% of Catalans would vote in favor of a republic in a referendum on the monarchy in Spain. Only 14.6% would support the monarchy.
The survey was carried out by sixteen media outlets, based on 3,000 interviews throughout Spain, including 500 in Catalonia.
Across Spain, 40.9% would vote for the Republic while 34.9% would vote for the monarchy.
Among the various institutions mentioned in the survey, Catalonia gave the worst approval rating to the Catholic Church, 2.3 out of 10.
King Felipe VI received a rating of 3.6 from Catalans versus 5.8 from the whole of Spain.
Former king, Juan Carlos I, who fled the country amid allegations of corruption, has a 1.9 rating in Catalonia and 3.3 in Spain.
Satisfaction with the monarchy in Catalonia is 2.9 with almost half of the Catalans rating the monarchy with a 0 or 1. In Spain the support is 4.6.
The support for the monarchy remains high among right wing and far right voters, while it is very low among left wing voters. A Republic is preferred by young people and the monarchy by those over 55 years of age.
The Catalan pro-independence activist Tamara Carrasco, accused by the prosecutors of sending a WhatsApp audio message inciting public disorder, has been acquitted by the criminal court number 25 of Barcelona. She faced a 7-month prison sentence as requested by the public prosecutor.
The court found that it has not been proven that Carrasco sent an audio message about possible actions of the Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) to anyone other than her group of friends or that she disseminated it via WhatsApp. Nor has it been proven that she exercised coordination tasks within the CDR.
“It is absolutely impossible to determine when the incitement to commit public disorder occurs in a large demonstration or gathering, and it is clear that the message sent by the defendant does not give any such instruction,” said the judge.
Carrasco was detained in 2018, accused of terrorism and rebellion and was confined for over a year in her hometown of Viladecans (Barcelona) while waiting for her case to move forward.
“As I remember it, it was surreal: I woke up, opened the door, and saw 12 armed people accusing me of terrorism,” said Carrasco.
When she was first detained, the police used an alleged voice message sent to a WhatsApp group to accuse her of terrorism and of instructing orders to a local branch of the Committee of Defense for the Republic (CDR), a decentralized network of protest groups created on the eve of the 2017 independence referendum. However, she has now been acquitted of all allegations.
Catalan President Quim Torra will seek justice in Europe following his removal by the Spanish Supreme Court on Monday.
“Some judges, not the Catalan people, decided that I can no longer be president. No unjust law applied by the Supreme Court will ever be able to defeat democracy. And I assure you that the irregularities committed to overthrowing another president will be judged in Europe,” Torra said in a televised address.
While President Torra affirmed he didn’t accept the ruling, he made clear he will not disobey and called for a plebiscite on the mandate of the 2017 referendum on independence in the next elections, which are expected to take place on February 14th.
Torra was disqualified by the Spanish Supreme Court on Monday for not removing a banner in defense of jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders from the government headquarters’ façade during an election period in 2019.
The President admitted in court that he had “disobeyed” Spain’s electoral authority by failing to remove the symbols, but added that “complying with an illegal order was impossible.” He denied that the expression ‘political prisoners’ that featured on the banner was partisan, arguing that “it is a way of speaking permitted by freedom of speech.”
“We don’t have the independent Catalan republic we were committed to building together. That’s how far I’ve come, and believe me when I say that I was ready to face any consequences,” said Torra.
The Spanish government will be able to send messages by WhatsApp, Telegram and other applications to the population in exceptional situations, according to the preliminary draft of the Telecommunications Act.
“This exceptional and transitional power of direct management or intervention may affect any infrastructure, associated resource or element or level of the network or service that is necessary to preserve or restore public order, public safety or national security,” states the text of the preliminary draft, as reported by the digital newspaper Vozpopuli.
According to the draft, “this power will only be exercised with respect to providers of interpersonal communications services when they are assigned the obligation to transmit public alerts in the event of major catastrophes or imminent or ongoing emergencies.”
The draft proposes a specific intervention by law in communication services such as Whatsapp and Telegram, which operate from outside Spain and pose more problems. For this reason, the Government wants to be able to order them to broadcast messages and alerts that they consider appropriate during an exceptional situation.
What is an exceptional situation? Many people fear the government will use this power to quell legitimate protests or acts of civil disobedience in the future. Whether this law will be used against dissenting and peaceful protesters is still unknown, but the experience in other countries shows that this type of law is likely to be used against the population in the foreseeable future.