Spain’s King Emeritus Juan Carlos, who fled the country after being accused of money laundering and corruption, has sealed a deal with the royal house and the Spanish government to return to Spain in February, according to the Spanish media.
The former king’s return comes after all accusations against him were suspiciously and suddenly withdrawn by Spanish and Swiss justice. It means he will have total freedom and impunity from those charges in Spanish territory. His return is expected to be discreet in order to avoid the social unrest that has been mounting over the years as the monarchy have been involved in several cases of corruption over the last decade.
King Felipe, who already has an authoritarian image after endorsing repression against national minorities and more precisely Catalonia, is expected to keep distant from his father in an initial attempt to improve his image and avoid social tensions against him. However, he has authorized his father’s return to Spain. This is likely going to cause more social unrest over the next few months.
Whether or not social unrest is avoidable or will grow over the next few months remains a mystery. But what is clear is that the only possible solution for the citizens to recover trust in democracy and institutions is to have a say in the future of the monarchy.
As the monarchy was imposed by a dictator, a referendum would give the citizens a chance to freely decide whether to support the current monarchy or to turn a new page and implement a republic that could represent all citizens.
The High Court of Justice (TSJC) has sentenced the pro-independence MP and Parliament Bureau member, Pau Juvillà (CUP), to a 6-month ban from holding public office and a fine of €1,080. He is accused of disobedience for not removing a few yellow ribbons from his office when he was a councilor of the Lleida City Hall in 2019.
Yellow ribbons have represented solidarity with political prisoners and exiles since 2017, when Catalonia organized a self-determination referendum, which was repressed by the Spanish state.
The unionist Ciudadanos party filed a complaint against Juvillà to the Electoral board for displaying what they described as partisan symbols, though they represented the whole society, during an electoral period. The councilor refused to take them down and the police eventually did it.
During the trial, Juvillà alleged that, as a councilor of the Lleida City Hall, he did not take down the ribbons, so as not to self-censor or injure ideological freedom.
The public prosecutor had requested an 8-month disqualification from public office as well as a €1,440-fine. Due to Juvillà becoming an MP in the Catalan Parliament following the February 14 elections, the case had to be tried in the High Court.
The CUP party reacted to the ruling, demanding a “clear, forceful and joint response” from Parliament against repression and “defending the sovereignty of the chamber and elected officials.” The far-left party wants to use all judicial approaches available and will present an appeal to the Supreme Court, and also plans to take the case to Strasbourg.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has denied any link between the EU intelligence agency and the New York Times report on the links between the Kremlin and the Catalan independence movement. This comes following a EU parliamentary question raised by exiled Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí.
A September article in the “New York Times” stated that trusted sources from the EU INTCEN, and EU intelligence agency, had confirmed to them that Josep Lluís Alay, Head of Office of exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, had traveled to Russia to gain the Kremlin’s support for independence. The article also falsely suggested that Russia was behind the civil disobedience platform Tsunami Democràtic.
Exiled President Puigdemont and his Head of Office, Alay, denied the accusations and challenged the newspaper to show evidence. Political parties in Spain, including the far-right and neo-Nazis, used it to launch an international smear campaign against the independence movement. Puigdemont tweeted that the disengagement of the intelligence agency “should make someone think, especially those who seized the opportunity to take advantage of.”
Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of Puigdemont and Alay, asked the New York Times to show from which agency the report came, since it would not affect the sources in any possible way. “It would be very interesting for them to put this alleged report on the table.”
However, the NYT refused to show evidence, which confirms that this was a mere fabrication to discredit the independence movement. Clarifications about who was behind it, their real motivations, and whether they got special funding from any Spanish institution are needed for public interest and accountability.
Earlier this week, the defense of exiled Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí, sent an official letter to Spain’s Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, asking whether he has already informed national police forces and the Interpol that they cannot be arrested.
The three-page letter from the exiles’ defense asks whether the necessary instructions have been issued to give effect to the suspension of the proceedings and the arrest warrants issued. Both, the European extradition orders and the legal proceedings against them were provisionally suspended by the EU Court of Justice, pending preliminary questions requested by the same judge Llarena.
This situation places the far-right Supreme Court magistrate in a complicated position. If he maintains that Catalan exiled leaders can be arrested, as he has already suggested, he will be violating EU laws. On the other hand, if he acknowledges that they cannot be arrested, he will pave the way for their return from exile.
Until now Llarena has maintained the criminal proceedings, the extradition orders, and arrest warrants, violating EU laws. However, a new resolution of the EU Court of Justice is very clear and says that it is irrelevant for Llarena to say that the criminal proceedings and extradition orders are active since EU justice has suspended them and EU laws have supremacy over national laws.
The court also sent a letter to Llarena, reminding him that his request for preliminary questions in March 2021 meant the immediate suspension of all proceedings againstthe exiled MEPs leaders.