The High Court of England and Wales Rules against Spain’s Former King Juan Carlos’ Immunity

The High Court of England and Wales ruled that former king of Spain Juan Carlos no longer has immunity and can be judged on British territory. The court argued that he is no longer a “sovereign” or “head of state” following his abdication in 2014.

The High Court (based in London) will now move forward with the former king’s ex-lover Corinna (Larsen) zu Sayn-Wittgenstein’s harassment allegations. The businesswoman filed a lawsuit against the former king in 2021 for “defamation, threats, and follow-ups” from 2012 to the present. She also denounced attempts by the Spanish Secret Services to enter her house and place a tracking beacon on her car.

Larsen said she suffered from “anxiety, humiliation, and moral stigma.” This led to the depression that isolated her from her kids, friends, and business partners.

“If the case goes further, the Defendant will have an opportunity to defend himself against any claims made towards him. Ultimately, the Court will hear evidence and make a decision after a trial,” the ruling reads.

The defendant, Juan Carlos, cited sovereign immunity, as a member of the Spanish royal household, to evade scrutiny. However, the court rejected his status.

“The fact that the Defendant has been granted a special constitutional status in Spain does not make him a sovereign,” the ruling reads. “Since he abdicated in 2014, the Defendant is not the head of state of Spain,” the court stated.

In the past few years, Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has been involved in several cases of corruption and money laundering.

Exiled Catalan Leader Clara Ponsatí: “Sacrifices Are Needed to Achieve Independence”

Catalan leader and former minister Clara Ponsatí said during an interview for the Spanish public broadcaster TVE that “sacrifices to achieve independence are needed, including withstanding Spanish extreme violence.” Additionally, she clarified that she is against any sort of violence.

The exiled Catalan leader also considered it as “paternalistic” that political leaders said, in the aftermath of the 2017 independence referendum, that the implementation of independence was not going to be pursued, arguing that “there could be deaths due to Spanish violence.”

Ponsatí defended that dying for a cause “is not a strange situation” in the course of history. “In all the great causes there have been important sacrifices and everyone must know what one is willing to sacrifice.” When asked directly if she would be willing to die for the independence of Catalonia, she said that “obviously she would try to avoid it by all means” but added that “it is not a strange situation” in the course of history.

As for the “negotiations” with Spain, Ponsatí said that they don’t exist and it is just a “fantasy.”

The Spanish Army Had a Plan to Intervene in Catalonia in the Aftermath of the 2017 Independence Referendum

Earlier this week, Fernando Alejandre, a general of Spain’s army, revealed that the army had a plan to intervene in Catalonia in the aftermath of the 2017 independence referendum.

In an interview with the newspaper ABC, Alejandre affirmed that the former Minister of Defense, María Dolores Cospedal, ordered him to prepare a plan to intervene in Catalonia in case independence was implemented. According to the former general, the plan was not activated because the declaration of independence lasted for only “12” seconds before its suspension.  

“The plan was aimed at supporting Spanish police forces, which included diverse actions, from logistical support to the protection of sensitive facilities and infrastructure,” said the former general.  According to him, this plan “was going to be a good starting point.” On this basis, “this would be an operation that could be adjusted in each comment, depending on how the situation evolved.”

The former general also affirmed that the Army “had fairly reliable information on the situation, including the capabilities of the Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), and the situation of the Catalan police (Mossos d’Esquadra).”

Alejandre also added that Cospedal was “concerned that there was not the slightest leak of what we were going to do” but that “she agreed that we should be prepared.” According to him, the then minister asked him to “keep the circle even closer, so that I could write a draft of the directive myself. The military did so and she signed it a couple of days later.” 

EU Justice Rules that European Arrest Warrants Can Be Refused Under Certain Circumstances

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) rules that European Arrest Warrants (EAW) can be refused under certain circumstances, which is an important precedent for Catalan exiles. This case responds to pre-trial questions raised by the Dutch judiciary over doubts about the extradition of two Polish nationals demanded by their country’s judiciary through a European Arrest Warrant. Dutch judges saw that there was a real risk of violation of their right to an independent judge and trial.

The ECJ’s response is that judges in the country of which the Arrest Warrant is being addressed have an obligation to examine all the information provided by the person concerned as to decide whether their right to an impartial judge has been violated.

This is a very important precedent for exiled Catalan leaders Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig (as well as the rest of the exiles) who could see their extradition requests refused. This procedure, with a pending date for a hearing, began as a reaction from Spain’s Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena to the final decision of Belgian justice to refuse the extradition of Lluís Puig. Belgian justice argued that his rights to have an independent trial and presumption of innocence had been violated by Spain. This decision was made taking into account public statements by Spanish political leaders and among other things, warnings made by the United Nations arbitrary detention group.