The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE-PSC) Once Again Blocks an Investigation Into Spain’s Former King Juan Carlos’ Illicit Accounts

On Wednesday, the Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE-PSC) once again blocked the creation of a commission of investigation into Juan Carlos, Spain’s former king’s illicit accounts. This came after the lawyers of Spain’s Congress endorsed such an investigation for the first time, contrary to what they had done before.

PSOE/PSC joined forces with the far-right Vox and the right-wing PP in the Congress Bureau in order to block the admission of the request to investigate the emeritus king in the chamber. It is a procedure that so far has not passed any similar request and that allows the issue to be raised in the Congress.

The request for the creation of a commission of investigation by Podemos argues that the facts to be investigated are subsequent to the abdication of the former monarch, and therefore the criterion of inviolability cannot be applied to him.

Minister of Health Salvador Illa

Spain’s Minister of Health Salvador Illa recently announced his presidential candidacy for PSOE/PSC in the next Catalan election, saying he will call for the formation of a new progressive government if he won the election. But the refusal of his administration to allow an investigation into the alleged corruption of the Spanish monarchy shows once again that his progressive rhetoric is just populist, not real, aimed at manipulating the public opinion to reach power by any means.

If this last episode of failure by this minister and his administration to be progressive is not enough to open people’s eyes, it is important to remember that he, himself, and a number of his colleagues also attended several demonstrations in Catalonia organized by the far right organization Societat Civil Catalana (SCC), some members of which have direct links with neo-Nazi squads.

Therefore, Illa’s victory in the next Catalan elections would be a victory of reactionaries, who if able to form a new government, would have a carte blanche to dismantle any sign of progress across the country.

Former Catalan Police Leadership During the 2017 Independence Bid Acquitted by Spain’s National Court

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.”

Poll: 66.5% of Catalans Would Vote for a Republic while 14.6% Would Vote for the Monarchy in a Referendum

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.

Catalan Pro-Independence Activist Tamara Carrasco Found Not Guilty

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.

Former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy to Be Investigated by Andorran Justice for Alleged Coercion

The Andorran justice will investigate former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy and the members of his former administration Cristóbal Montoro, Jorge Fernández Díaz and Francisco Martínez for alleged coercion against the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA). The organization that filed the lawsuit, the Institute of Human Rights of Andorra (IDHA), claims that the former Spanish government threatened to shut down the Andorran bank if it did not provide them with politically-useful information and when the bank refused it, Spain put its threat into action by reporting alleged money-laundering activities to the US Treasury Department, which acted swiftly.

According to the private prosecution, the coercion and threats to the Bank took place during an official visit of Rajoy and Montoro to Andorra in January 2015, when they met with the head of the Andorran government, Toni Martí and other ministers.

The Institute of Human Rights of Andorra (IDHA) claims that the visit was intended to obtain information on Catalan pro-independence politicians. The Andorran justice will investigate all the offenses they are accused of by the private prosecution.

In another case of May and June 2014, it was stated that four Spanish police officers had threatened, coerced and extorted three BPA executives in an attempt to extract information on alleged bank accounts of Catalan pro-independence politicians under the threat that the “bank could end up being blocked from activity,” which is what eventually happened.

Spain’s Attorney General Dolores Delgado (PSOE) Says the Supreme Kangaroo Court Trial against the Catalan Pro-Independence Leaders Over the Referendum Was an Example of “Legality”

The former Minister of Justice of PSOE in the last legislature and new Spain’s Attorney General, Dolores Delgado, affirmed on Monday during the opening ceremony of the judicial year, presided over by King Felipe VI, that the trial of the pro-independence leaders was “a criminal trial of special significance at all levels” where the various legal operators involved “have set an example of institutional normalcy and commitment to duty and legality.”

According to Delgado, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is an institution “close” to the citizens and “a decisive pillar in the defense of legality and democracy and the rule of law. The vocation for public service has been what encouraged the work of prosecutors during 2019,” she said (despite being a politicized institution that has proven to be one of the arms of the repression against the Catalans).

Delgado said that the trial of the pro-independence leaders was held with the additional “guarantee” of “enhanced advertising” because it was broadcast “streaming” through television and radio.

She recalled that the sentence stated that “the facts of the case constituted a crime of sedition and an aggravated crime of embezzlement of public money” and concluded that they had been undertaken “in medial competition” so that the embezzlement could be considered the means “to commit sedition.”

“This culminated a criminal process of special importance at all levels, where the various legal operators involved have set an example of institutional normalcy and commitment to duty and legality,” she concluded.

No reference was made to the flight of King Emeritus Juan Carlos to a country without an extradition treaty with Switzerland or to investigations into his alleged irregular businesses.

Judge Keeps Suspension of Open Prison Regime for Jailed Catalan Leaders Junqueras, Rull, Turull, Romeva and Sànchez

The judge of the 5th Court of Prisons has decided to maintain once again the suspension of the open prison regime for Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Josep Rull until the Supreme Court resolves the appeals filed by the prosecution against the classification of the political prisoners. The judge has again rejected the appeals filed by the defense.

In a statement, the judge said that the arguments of the defense are the same as those already used in the appeal filed against the first ruling on July 28, in which he suspended the execution of the open regime. That appeal was answered in the ruling of August 11. On August 19, the same court upheld the open prison regime but insisted that the suspension should be maintained pending the Supreme Court ruling.

This decision comes after Spanish prosecutors requested the suspension of the lowest security prison regime for seven of the 9 political prisoners: Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Sànchez, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, and Jordi Turull.

Another judge decided to maintain the open prison regime for jailed Catalan leaders Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa until the Supreme Court makes a final decision on the prosecutor’s requests.

A final decision on the Catalan political prisoners’ jail regime will still have to be made by the Supreme Court for the nine political prisoners in the next few months.

Trial of 2017 Barcelona and Cambrils Terror Attacks

The trial of the 2017 Barcelona and Cambrils terror attacks is due to start in the upcoming months at Spain’s National Court. Three suspects will be tried for terrorism, but not murder.

During the pre-trial procedures, the court said there was not enough evidence to attribute a direct role to the three men in the deaths of the victims who died in the attacks in the Catalan capital and the nearby seaside town.

Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Driss Oukabir are accused of belonging to a terrorist organization, making and using explosives, while Said Ben Iazza is accused of collaborating with a terrorist organization. Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Driss Oukabir have been in preventive detention since August 2017, while Said Ben Iazza has been in custody since September of the same year.

Spain’s public prosecutor requests a 41-year sentence for Houli for allegedly being involved in planning the attacks and preparing the bombs. The Catalan government, acting as private prosecutor, requests 44 years for him, and the Barcelona local council, 95. Yet, they are not being accused of murder due to not having been directly involved in the incident, although the Catalan executive has made clear this might change after the trial starts.

For Driss Oukabir, brother of one of the terrorists shot dead by the police, the public prosecutor requests 36 years behind bars, and for the third accused, Said Ben Iazza, an 8-year sentence.

The Spanish government still refuses to carry out an independent investigation into the attacks, though there are concerns regarding alleged links between the secret services and the suspects.

The Catalan Government to Seek Negotiations in Brussels if Madrid Denies Self-Determination

Catalan President Quim Torra announced during an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN) his intention of seeking negotiations with the EU if Spain continues denying the Catalans their right-to self-determination. It comes after “finding” that conversations with Madrid so far has only translated into “photos.”

“It is enough to deceive us. But are they willing to negotiate self-determination? If not, we will negotiate in Brussels and we will not waste any more time.”

The President affirms that his administration will only meet with the PSOE and Podemos government if they write on a paper the conditions for a referendum and amnesty for the political prisoners. “If we don’t see it on a paper, we will not go to the negotiating table again, and we will go to Europe instead” he warned. In this line, the head of government urges Madrid to answer whether or not it is “willing” to negotiate self-determination.

“Have we come to the conclusion that it is impossible for a pro-independence activist to be judged with state neutrality? And have we concluded that they are about to disqualify a president for displaying a banner calling for freedom of expression? The same will happen with the dialogue then, and we will only find negotiation outside the [Spanish] state,” he asserted.

Unity

Torra asks pro-independence forces to achieve a programmatic agreement on self-determination. “What I expect from the parties is a clarification in their electoral programs on how we can move forward towards the Catalan republic,” he explained. According to the President, it is necessary to “clarify” the commitment to “exercise the right to self-determination again.”

Unionism

The President also asked the Catalan unionism to make its own self-criticism with proposals on how to deal with the current situation: “How do they plan to address the fact that the state cares very little or nothing about the funds that correspond to Catalonia?” he asked.

Elections

Spain’s Supreme Court will hold a hearing on Catalan president Quim Torra’s disqualification on September 17. If the judges confirm the disqualification ruled by the Spanish high court in Catalonia (TSJC), Torra would be ousted from his position.

The President affirmed last year that he would call for elections before being disqualified, which could happen in the next few weeks. It remains unknown whether he has changed his mind due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

The Spanish Government and the Prosecutor’s Office Break Dialogue by Suspending the Open Prison Regime for Seven Catalan Political Prisoners

Between Tuesday and Thursday, two courts suspended the open prison regime for the Catalan political prisoners Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva, Jordi Sànchez, Quim Forn, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull. They were all forced to re-enter prison.

This decision came after the public prosecutor’s office, under the Spanish government’s control, appealed against allowing them to benefit from the open prison regime because according to the prosecutor, giving them this category creates “a sense of impunity.”

The judges’ sudden decision confirmed the impossibility of dialogue with the state. From now on, they will not be able to have either the open prison regime or the 100.2 regime, so they will not be able to go out to work either.

During the election campaign Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez affirmed he was controlling the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Due to lack of interest or fear of a crisis among prosecutors, there has not been any change in trend in relation to the pro-independence leaders in comparison with the previous administration.

Reactions in the pro-independence camp

Catalan president Quim Torra said that it was an act of “vengeance” and warned the Spanish government that it must “demonstrate a desire to end hostilities against the independence movement” for dialogue to be able to take place.

Catalan Vice-President, Pere Aragonès, accused the Spanish government of “rupturing” talks and warned that negotiations were not possible without amnesty.

Jailed Catalan leader Jordi Sànchez: “It’s time to stop giving them votes,” he said, referring to ERC’s support of the Spanish government.

Jailed Catalan leader Jordi Cuixart: “We do not want an individual solution for each of us. We want an end to repression, amnesty and a political solution to the political conflict. You have no obligation to obey unjust laws. You must disobey as many unjust laws as necessary.”

Jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras: “They are afraid of us because they know that they will not beat us at the polls. That is why they want to exercise influence through imprisonment and repression and forced exile, because they cannot exert influence through social and parliamentary channels,” he said.

Jailed Catalan leader Quim Forn said that every act of repression makes them, the political prisoners, stronger.

Jailed Catalan leader Josep Rull warned that the Supreme Court has had to “scrap its own rule of law” and reinterpret prison law to jail them again.

Jailed Catalan leader Jordi Turull called for unity between pro-independence forces.

The Spanish Supreme Court ruling on the Catalan political prisoners last October does not establish any clause that inmates must serve a given percentage of the sentence before accessing leave permits. However, the high court has suddenly declared itself competent to decide on this matter meaning the repression against the Catalan political prisoners and the pro-independence movement is not going to lessen in the foreseeable future.