The Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office Opposes the Release of Jailed Catalan Civil Society Leader Jordi Cuixart

The Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office opposes the release of jailed Catalan civil society leader and president of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart, while the Constitutional Court (TC) reviews the sentence resulted from the 2017 independence referendum. The prosecutor considers the prison sentence too high to be suspended. After hearing the parties’ pronouncement, the TC will have to make a decision.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office also declared that the sentence must be completed in order to ensure the “deterrent” effect in the face of possible crimes that may be committed by the rest of society.

Òmnium has reprimanded Pedro Sánchez for missing “the last chance to correct the violation of rights before going to European courts.” The entity emphasizes that the prosecution has taken this decision, ignoring the calls of Amnesty International and major international human rights organizations.

Òmnium vice-president, Marcel Mauri, also reminded that Sánchez said that “the public prosecutor was under his orders” and that it is the same prosecutor who opposes the freedom of Cuixart and the other political prisoners.

The prisoners filed appeals for protection between February and March, just before the pandemic erupted. This is the last step before they can bring their cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, but it is also the step that can be extended the longest because the Constitutional Court usually takes years to resolve this type of appeal.

Amnesty International Calls for the Immediate Release of Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez

On Wednesday, Amnesty International (AI) demanded the immediate release of jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez. Both have been imprisoned since October 16, 2017, for participating in a peaceful demonstration on September 20, 2017.

AI made public that it sent a technical report to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Spanish State Attorney’s Office, the defense (lawyers) and the private prosecutors (Vox), which highlights the vagueness of the crime of sedition the Catalan leaders are accused of and insists that the sentence against them violates their freedom of expression and assembly. “They must be released immediately,” the organization said in a statement.

The document was provided just at the time the Constitutional Court accepted the appeal of the Catalan leaders to declare the sentence null.

AI considers the sentence a disproportionate restriction of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. It does not meet the requirements of international human rights instruments, such as art. 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and art. 11.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, established to be able to impose restrictions on judgments of this type.

“The definition of the criminal act of sedition must be substantially revised to ensure that it does not unduly criminalize the exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, nor does it impose disproportionate penalties on acts of peaceful civil disobedience,” said Esteban Beltrán, director of the NGO in Spain.

Spanish Prosecutor Opposes Jailed Catalan Leader Jordi Sànchez’s Leave Because The Purpose Of His Imprisonment Is To “Intimidate The Whole Society”

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an appeal at the Barcelona High Court against the decision to grant jailed Catalan leader Jordi Sànchez permission, based on the article 100.2, to leave prison to work and volunteer for a few hours each week.

The prosecutor argues that prison sentences must serve to set a social example:

“The purpose of re-education and social reintegration indicated in article 25.2 of the Constitution has the purpose of special prevention and social intimidation to dissuade people in the commission of new crimes,” argues the public prosecutor.

“This means that when it comes to crimes considered serious, as analyzed here, the penalty must be identified by society and then affected as an effective sanction, in order to maintain confidence in the state of Law and in the good functioning of the Public Administration, affirming the maxim that Justice is equal for all,” he adds.

The prosecutor criticized the judge who endorsed the permission for Jordi Sànchez and scorned voluntary service of political prisoners. “If volunteering is the alternative to staying in a Penitentiary Center, the choice seems clear and lacks all merit,” he concluded.

The Spanish Constitutional Court To Decide Whether To Admit Catalan Political Prisoners’ Convictions’ Appeals On May 6

The Constitutional Court has called for a session on May 6 to decide, amongst other matters, whether to admit writs of appeal by seven of the nine Catalan political prisoners: Jordi Turull, Jordi Sànchez, Josep Rull, Jordi Cuixart, Dolors Bassa, Carme Forcadell and Joaquim Forn.

The Catalan leaders are appealing against their conviction last October for sedition and misuse of public funds. This appeal, which is expected to be admitted but put on standby, is the preliminary step that will enable the political prisoners to appeal their convictions to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg – a process that usually takes between 4 and 7 years.

The nine leaders were convicted last October for their role in the 2017 independence referendum. Their sentences prompted massive social unrest across the country, which ended with hundreds of detentions and prosecutions.

The two political prisoners who will not be part of the May hearing, Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva, appealed their sentences last year.

The Spanish Civil Guard Head: “We Are Working To Minimize Dissatisfaction Toward The Spanish Government”

Last week the Chief of Staff of Spain’s Civil Guard, José Manuel Santiago, said that the body he oversees is working to “minimize the dissatisfaction with the [Spanish] government and its management of the [health] crisis.” Later, he said that his words were misinterpreted and he added that in his 40-year career he had “learned that people come first.”

On Monday, Cadena Ser revealed that the Civil Guard Chief received an email from the Spanish interior ministry on April 15, urging the paramilitary police body to identify fake news likely to create “hostility to government institutions.”  

The intent of this email was to prepare a monographic report “with the purpose of being addressed in future meetings by the head of the ministerial department.” The email also asks for the inclusion of cyber crimes, repeated investigations of such crimes and complaints regarding online sales of products such as masks.

This report would be carried out by the Cybersecurity Coordination Unit, which in previous reports has described disinformation as “a set of publications on the Internet, mainly on social networks, of false news, half truths and highly subjective information with a destabilizing purpose of breaking down trust in public powers and representatives.”

Cadena Ser also revealed the existence of another email from the Civil Guard sent to the different command headquarters all across the country on April 15, urging its officers to identify fake news “likely to cause social distress and disaffection towards government institutions.”

Spain’s Civil Guard sources assured Cadena Ser that this strategy has been used in other “social conflicts” with the aim of informing the Government of false news with a destabilizing purpose, and identifying any criminal acts for referral to the judge or the prosecutor.

The Spanish Government Forces Millions of Workers to Return to Work, Ignoring WHO Recommendations

The Spanish government has forced millions of Spanish and Catalan workers to return to work starting early this week, despite the fact that the government does not comply with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations:

– Transmission is controlled

– Health system capacities are in place to test, isolate, and treat every case and trace every contact

– Outbreak risks are minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes

– Preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools, and other essential places

– Importation risks can be manage

– Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the new norm

These are the sectors that have reopened:

– Construction

– Industry

– Judicial and legal services

– Domestic workers

– Gardening

As an indication of the possible scale of re-opening, the construction and industrial sectors alone employ 24% of the Catalan workforce.

The Catalan government, in collaboration with organizations such as Red Cross and Civil Protection volunteers, have distributed 1.7 million face masks in cities and towns with more than 30,000 inhabitants, primarily on public transport and at main transport hubs.

There is great uncertainty as to whether lifting the confinement for millions of workers will cause a deadly resurgence of coronavirus (Covid-19). According to experts, we will have to wait around two weeks to see the real outcome. If there were a resurgence of cases, the Spanish government will bear responsibility for all of the deaths. 

The Spanish Government Studies the Use of the Mobile Phone’s Geolocation Data against Coronavirus

Spain’s Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, said earlier this week that the Spanish government is looking to use its citizens’ mobile phone geolocation data to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (Covid-19).  

Campo said that there are other countries applying the same measures. “The Data Protection Agency tells us that there is no violation during a situation like this and it seems reasonable to us that when someone is positive and reluctant [to be confined] we establish some mechanism,” he said.  

In this sense, he referred to the possibility of forcing the isolation of individuals that have tested positive (for Covid-19) who do not want to isolate themselves. “The emergency state does not lower the rule of law and, in cases like this, they would ask the relevant departments to act,” he said in relation to the enablement of public facilities and hotels to isolate asymptomatic individuals.  

In any case, he also said that everything cannot be “homogenized” and the government considers the assumptions of the people who want to access these spaces “voluntarily” because they cannot do it elsewhere.  

Many organizations, political parties and citizens have raised concerns about what they think will be a tool that will be in force beyond the state of emergency. The Spanish government could use this tool against political dissenters, they warned.  

Ministry of Truth (1984)

Campo also vowed to review all legal instruments in order to penalize anyone who spreads false information and “contaminates public opinion.” The minister defended the citizens’ right to truthful information and said that it is even more important in an emergency situation when he believes that fake news can do “harm.” Thus the Spanish government would decide what can and cannot be published jeopardizing citizens’ freedom of expression and political dissent.

Essential Activities Not Affected by Lockdown in Catalonia

This is the list of activities not affected by the lockdown, as its publication in Spain’s official gazette shows and is summarized by ACN:

1. Shops selling food and drinks; medical, optical and orthopedic products (including pharmacies and doctors); hygiene products; hairdressers (if they work in the client’s home); newspapers and stationery; gas stations, tobacconists, technological and telecommunications equipment, pet food; business by internet, telephone or correspondence; dry cleaners and laundries

2. Those taking part in any step of the supply chain of basic products, including food, drinks, animal food, hygiene products, medicines, healthcare products, health technology, protection equipment and hospital material

3. Restaurants and hotel businesses, only food delivery

4. Supply of electricity, products derived from oil and natural gas

5. Essential infrastructures and companies and suppliers of basic services

6. Judges, prosecutors, justice public servants, who have to continue judicial cases not suspended

7. Services of basic public administrations to ensure public services work, including road works, services, supplies and security and maintenance of public buildings

8. People and cargo transport and those activities linked to guaranteeing this transport for journeys allowed under the state of alarm

9. Law enforcement, penitentiary institutions, maritime rescue, civil protection services, fire extinguishing services, the security of mines, road traffic and traffic safety

10. Armed forces

11. Private security

12. Health centers, services and shops, those dedicated to elderly people, minors, dependent people and disabled people’s care

13. People in research centers of projects related to covid-19

14. Funerary services

15. Animal health centers, services and shops

16. Sales of press

17. Public and private media outlets, including printing and distribution 

18. Financial, banking services and insurance

19. Telecommunications and audiovisual companies, and IT basic services, including those needed for the development of public services (also for servants working from home)

20. Essential services of protection and care of sexist violence victims

21. Lawyers, barrister, social graduates, translators, interprets and psychologists taking part in non-suspended judicial cases

22. Legal advisories, administrative consultancies, those of social graduates and prevention of occupational hazards in urgent matters

23. Workers of notaries and registers for the established basic services

24. Cleaning, maintenance services, urgent reparations and surveillance

25. Handling and picking of dangerous waste, urban waste, treatment of waste water, decontamination and removal of dead animals

26. Welcoming refugees and migrant centers

27. Supply of drinking water

28. Meteorological services

29. Universal posting service of the Spanish public operator

30. Import and supply of health material, including logistics companies, transport, storage, customs officers, and health corridors in general

Juan Carlos I, Former Spain’s King, Closed a Bank Account in Switzerland Because the Government Tightened the Anti-Corruption Legislation

Juan Carlos I, Spain’s former king, closed an account in a Swiss Bank in June, 2012, because the government had tightened the anti-corruption legislation. This is stated in the international letters rogatory that the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office sent to the judge of the Villarejo case, Manuel García-Castellón. It was reported by El País newspaper on Monday.

The prosecutor Yves Bertossa declared that the account of the Lucum Foundation, whose first beneficiary is Juan Carlos I, was closed “due to the new Swiss tax legislation” and adds that the then head of state “signed an order to transfer the balance of Lucum’s account to Corinna Larsen (the ex-lover of Spain’s former King) in the name of Solare Investors Corporation at Gonet and Cie Bank in Nassau, Bahamas.”

In this way, Corinna Larsen kept the funds of the Lucum Foundation, whose second beneficiary is the current head of the Spanish State, Felipe VI. The king of Spain was informed a year ago by Corinna Larsen’s lawyers of his situation and then, according to the Royal Household, he went to the notary to renounce his father’s inheritance, although experts in Civil Law emphasize that it is just a gesture because you cannot give up the living inheritance of the owner of the money.

Prosecutor Bertossa is investigating an alleged crime of “aggravated money laundering” and the alleged payment of commissions for the work of the AVE from Medina to Mecca built by a consortium of Spanish companies led by OHL. According to the prosecutor, the winning bidders had granted in their offer a “30 percent discount” for the alleged intercession of the king, who would have taken 64.8 million euros in exchange.

Spain’s King Felipe VI Renounces his Inheritance from his Father in an Attempt to Save the Monarchy

On Monday, Spain’s King Felipe VI renounced his inheritance from his father and stripped the former King Juan Carlos of his £175,000-a-year royal income in order to save himself amid a growing social repulsion against the monarchy. The calls for his abdication following a finance scandal served as a catalyst for the new king to take drastic action.

Swiss prosecutors are investigating an offshore account allegedly operated for Felipe VI’s father Juan Carlos, 82, which is suspected to have received €88 million from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah in 2008. According to the newspaper La Tribune de Genève, prosecutors believe the fund could be linked to kickback payments after the former monarch helped to broker business deals with Saudi Arabia while still in power.

On Saturday, March 14, The Telegraph reported that Felipe was named as a beneficiary of an offshore fund that controls the Swiss account with an alleged 65 million euro gift ($72 million USD) from Saudi Arabia, given to his father when he was on the throne. In 2012, around $65 million (€57 million) was transferred from this account to Corinna Larsen, a Monaco-based businesswoman and ex-lover of Juan Carlos.

Larsen told the investigators in 2018 that the money was a donation from the former king after a recording emerged in which she allegedly claimed she was a frontwoman Liaison for his portfolio abroad for his assets abroad.

The reports also say that she will file a lawsuit against the former head of Spanish intelligence, Félix Sanz Roldán, for allegedly organizing an intimidation campaign against her continually, from 2012, when he learned of her relationship with the former king.