The leader of the Spanish Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, attended a mass in honour of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco in Granada on Saturday, November 20th. According to the Popular Party, Casado, was “unaware” that the mass in honour of the dictator was going to take place that day. However, this argument is dubious since photographs show that there were pre-constitutional flags and attendees making fascist salutes.
The controversy started earlier this week when several Spanish media outlets published photos of Casado with Mass-goers who attended the mass in memory of the dictator on the 46th anniversary of his death, an incident that has provoked denunciations by various left-wing political parties. “There were 10 masses in honour of Franco and there are 23,000 churches in Spain, so the chance of going to a mass for Franco being unaware was 0.005%.”
Foundation Francisco Franco
The Francisco Franco foundation thanked the PP President for attending the mass. “We are grateful that the opposition leader and his family attended the prayers for the soul of an exemplary Christian like Francisco Franco Bahamonde.” In addition, the foundation hopes that the presence of the PP leader at the event will serve to “normalize” its activities and demands.
Silence from Casado
Pablo Casado, on the other hand, has turned a deaf ear to criticism and has refused to give any explanation of his actions.
On Tuesday, the High Court of Madrid ordered the imprisonment of 10 of the 14 neo-Nazis who assaulted the Blanquerna Catalan cultural center in Madrid in 2013. They were told to collect their prison entry orders between November 25th and 29th, and after that, they will have ten more days to enter the prison of their choice. This decision comes after the Constitutional Court rejected the last possible appeal of the defendants for lack of “constitutional significance.”
The High Court also sent a letter to the Supreme Court to clarify the status of the pardon processes of two of the convicted, whose entries into prison had been temporarily suspended. In 2016, the 14 got prison sentences of up to six years. But in 2020, the Supreme Court reduced their sentences to between 2 years and 7 months and 2 years and 9 months in prison.
Two of the convicts had been subject to arrest warrants after disappearing, but one of them was captured and is already serving his sentence at the Victoria Kent prison.
The Catalan pro-independence movement believes their imprisonments come very late. It has been eight years since the events took place and five since their first conviction.
A report of the European United Left denounces the silence of the EU Commission on the Spanish government’s violations of the rule of law in Catalonia. It concludes that the EU has no real will to protect the rule of law when allowing threats against the law and systematic abuses of power, as in the case of state repression against the Catalan independence movement.
The report, which was commissioned by MEP Clare Daly and drafted by the academic Albena Azmanova, denounces the “breaches of the law in Spain” that include the problems of judicial independence, the arbitrary imprisonment of pro-independence leaders, the persecution of those organizing demonstrations, the bail of 5.4 million euros for former officials from the Court of Auditors, and the illegal espionage of Catalan politicians using the Pegasus spyware.
The report concludes that the “deliberate silence” of the European authorities in the face of the violations of the Spanish state is likely to have a negative and far-reaching effect on the rule of law in the European Union, and that the reductive and legalistic analysis of the EU Commission on the rule of law in Spain favors the use of an instrument of oppression.
Last week, the Belgian Constitutional Court ruled that the lèse-majesté law, which penalized insults to the crown, was unconstitutional. According to the high court, the 1847 law, which allows for up to three-year sentences for insulting the royal family, violates the right to freedom of expression as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Article 19 of the Constitution prohibits freedom of expression from being subject to preventive restrictions,” says the Belgian Constitutional ruling, which adds: “By sanctioning words publicly expressed against the person of the king, article 1 of the law of April 6, 1847, constitutes an interference with the right to freedom of expression.” This ruling was in response to a question presented by the court of Ghent that must resolve the extradition case of the exiled rapper Valtònyc.
The rapper was sentenced in Spain to three and a half years’ prison for, amongst other things, insults to the crown in the lyrics of his songs. He decided to go to exile and appeal to the Belgian judiciary, which has now ruled that insults against the king are protected by freedom of expression.
Valtònyc celebrated the ruling in a Tweet in which he said his case had served the “collective good.” We have won and Belgium has removed the lèse-majesté from the criminal code. “I have always been clear that I wanted to put my case in the hands of those protecting fundamental rights for all. I did not lower my head and you have never left me alone. Thank you.”
“Victory. The constitutional court abolishes the criminal law on lèse-majesté, by declaring it contrary to freedom of expression. A historic step for our internal Belgian legal order, and good news for the Valtònyc extradition case,” said Simon Bekaert, Valtònyc’s lawyer.
The extradition of the rapper, which will be decided on November 23rd, at the Ghent Court of Appeal, thus becomes very unlikely.