Former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament and Three Former Members of the Bureau Summoned to Testify Before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia on September 15th Over an Alleged Crime of Disobedience for Allowing Two Debates

The former Speaker of the Parliament of Catalonia, Roger Torrent, and the former members of the Bureau, Josep Costa, Eusebi Campdepadrós, and Adriana Delgado, have been summoned to testify before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), a court controlled by pro-Spain judges, on September 15. They are all under investigation for an alleged crime of disobedience for admitting to proceedings and allowing the text of two resolutions to be debated in a plenary session: one in favor of the right to self-determination, on November 12, 2019, and the other to reprove King Felipe, on November 26, 2019.

The resolutions were supported by the pro-independence parties ERC, Junts, and CUP. One of the texts stressed that parliament “reiterates and will reiterate as many times as MPs choose, the disapproval of the monarchy, the defense of self-determination, and the affirmation of the sovereignty of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future.”

In the writ, they are accused of contravening Spain’s Constitutional Court and authorizing votes that were deemed unlawful. The court says that the ruling of the Spanish Constitutional Court of December 2, 2015, declared unconstitutional and null the resolution 1/XI of the parliament of November 9, 2015, on the beginning of the political process in Catalonia as a result of the outcome of the September 27 elections.

The Constitutional Court agreed to suspend parliamentary resolutions and reminded the Bureau of its duty to prevent and paralyze any parliamentary initiative that ignores or evades this suspension. The court also warned them that they could incur responsibilities, including criminal if they failed to comply. The prosecution considers that the four defendants breached this order when they allowed the two debates. If found guilty of disobedience, they could all face a ban from public office.

In a message posted on social media, Torrent says that “the repressive machinery is still in place to limit and pursue freedom of expression,” and argues that “Parliament is the temple of speech and debate” and that they want to censor it, this “goes against democracy.”

Spain Accused of Spying on Catalans

The “SOURGUM” malicious software package has been used to spy on Catalan citizens, according to Microsoft. The firm says that its intelligence center MSTIC has found out that “the Israeli private-sector actor has been hired by governments in order to spy on over 100 people around the world, including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics, embassy workers, and political dissidents.”

Exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and the president of the Catalan cultural organization Òmnium Jordi Cuixart are among the victims. “The Spanish state violates the right to privacy: it is obvious: they know everything about us,” says Cuixart.

The Catalan government has accused the Spanish government of spying on Catalans


President Aragonès: “Afterwards they get angry when they are put at the same level as Turkey in terms of human rights.”

Vice-President Jordi Puigneró: “Controlling Catalans, a curious ‘reconciliation’ agenda led by the Spanish executive.”

This revelation comes a year after The Guardian and El País revealed that the phones of Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent and other pro-independence activists were targeted using the Pegasus spyware that experts say is only sold to governments to track criminals and terrorists.

The Spanish Government Wants to Enforce Dangerous Reforms which Will Change the Country’s National Security Laws

The Spanish government (PSOE-UP) is planning to reform a law that would allow them to mobilize all adult citizens from Spain in case of a serious crisis. According to the newspaper El País, any adult would have to obey the rules set up by the Spanish Security Council to perform “social tasks.” If the law passes the government will be able to seize almost everything, they will be able to seize property such as houses and companies. They will also be able to seize citizens’ bank accounts and potentially spread misinformation via the media.

This reform is based on Article 30 of the Spanish Constitution, which states that “the Spaniards have the duty and the right to defend Spain.” The “social tasks” would be regulated by the obsolete article that defended compulsory military service, which was suspended in 2001, which states that “the duties of citizens may be regulated in cases of serious risk, catastrophe, or public crisis.” According to the document, the President would also be able to declare a state of emergency without the approval of Congress.

These dangerous reforms could be used by the far-right in the future to install an authoritarian government and quell any form of dissent, which could potentially bring the country back to Francoism times. This could happen soon since according to recent polls, the conservative PP and the far-right Vox will get an absolute majority in the next Spanish election in two years.

Spain’s Court of Auditors Claims Millions of Euros from 40 Former Catalan Officials

On Tuesday, the conservative Spanish Court of Auditors claimed 5.4 million euros as financial guarantees from some 40 former Catalan government officials for allegedly promoting independence abroad from 2011 to 2017. These financial guarantees are additional to others previously requested by the same court.

In total, the auditing body claims from former president Artur Mas and former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell 2.8 million euros, as well as 1.9 million euros from former president Carles Puigdemont and former vice president Oriol Junqueras. All this corresponds to allegedly irregular expenses in the framework of the promotion of the process of independence around the world.

The official most affected by this case is the former Secretary General of Diplocat, a semipublic consortium aimed at fostering Catalonia’s interests abroad, Albert Royo, who faces a claim of 3.6 million euros.

Former foreign affairs minister Raül Romeva faces 2.1 million euros and former government’s spokesperson Francesc Homs 2.9 million euros, while auditors Mireia Vidal and Rosa Vidal 3.1 million and 1.8 million, respectively.

As for the rest, including former secretaries general and several government delegates abroad, they face lower quantities, though still huge.

The assets of all the former officials affected by this case will be seized if they aren’t able to pay the financial guarantees within the next two weeks.

The victims’ lawyers described it as an “arbitrary procedure.” Puigdemont’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, denounced the procedure as a “mockery” and stated that he had never felt such “helplessness” before.

NOTE: The Spanish Court of Auditors is not formed by judges as other courts, but mostly by politicians, including former ministers, who were appointed by the conservative political party PP during prior administrations.

Dead former official requested to pay 22,725 euros

Maryse Olivé, former official of the government of Catalonia in France, who died in 2017, has been requested to pay 22,725 euros. The Court of Auditors now wants her daughter, Chantal Olivé, to pay for it, though she has not been accused of any crime or irregularity.

Exiled President and MEP Carles Puigdemont will take this case to Belgian justice

“We will use all mechanisms to demand responsibility for this action. A complaint or a lawsuit. We will spare no effort, because it is clearly an abuse,” said Puigdemont’s lawyer Boye.

“Puigdemont’s residence is currently fixed in Waterloo, Belgium, meaning he will suffer the consequences of this court ruling there. Thus, he will have to bring the case to Belgian justice to find a solution to this abusive action by the Court of Auditors,” added the lawyer.

33 Nobel Prize winners against Court of Auditors’ case

33 Nobel Prize winners including Joseph Stiglitz, Gorge Akerlof, Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Esther Duflo, and Eugene Fama have shown their support for former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell and have described the action of the Court of Auditors against him as unfair.

The Spanish Government Grants Pardons for 9 Jailed Catalan Leaders the Day after the Council of Europe Demanded the Liberation of Catalan Political Prisoners, the Return of Exiles, and the End of Repression

On Tuesday, the Spanish government granted partial and reversible pardons for the nine jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Sànchez, Joaquim Forn, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, and Raül Romeva in response to international pressure. It came a day after the Council of Europe demanded the liberation of Catalan political prisoners, the withdrawal of extradition orders against exiles, and the end of repression.

The pardons are partial, meaning that the nine leaders are still barred from holding public office for nearly a decade, and reversible in the sense that they will be suspended if the leaders commit a “serious crime” in the coming years or if any of the prisoners exercise the fundamental rights that landed them in prison in the first place. In the cases of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, this was holding a peaceful demonstration.

Council of Europe

On Monday, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe approved a report by its Committee on Legal Affairs on the situation of political leaders behind bars in Spain and Turkey by 70 votes in favor, 28 against, and 12 abstentions. They demanded the release of the Catalan political prisoners, the withdrawal of the extradition orders against exiles, among others, and the end of repression. They also overturned one by one and by a large majority the amendments of Spain’s PSOE and PP representatives who wanted to reduce the report’s critical content. Spanish efforts to water down the report failed.

The document approved by the Council of Europe is also important because it can be used as a precedent in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Political prisoners have already begun bringing appeals against their prison sentences for weeks. They expect the Strasbourg verdict to result in the annulation of their sentences, which could be a major blow to Spanish justice.

Pardons not a solution to the conflict

The pardons granted for nine jailed Catalan leaders on Tuesday are not a realistic solution to the ongoing conflict. There are still exiles and over 3,300 Catalans currently enduring judicial proceedings, including officials, and thousands of activists and normal people across the country. Thus, the conflict is expected to continue until their situation is resolved and the demands of an astonishing majority of 80% of Catalans, demanding amnesty and self-determination, are heard.

Political Prisoner Jordi Cuixart Case Affects “Rights of the Whole of European Society”

On Tuesday, the Catalan cultural organization Òmnium Cultural held an event to explain the recent decision of its jailed President, Jordi Cuixart, to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). He is currently serving nine years in prison after being found guilty of sedition for participating in a peaceful demonstration a few days before the 2017 independence referendum.

“The Spanish state has misused its power to harm a political adversary. There has been a use of the powers of the State to judicially prosecute political dissent. The right to demonstrate should not be limited by political opression. The objective was not to apply the law, but to find a pretext to keep Cuixart away from the protests and weaken Òmnium Cultural,” said the lawyer Olivier Peter.

Olivier predicts a “defeat for the State, invoking international pressure.” He also referred to the votes of Juan Antonio Xiol and María Luisa Balaguer, judges on Spain’s Constitutional Court, who stated that the prison sentence by the Supreme Court violated Cuixart’s right to assembly and personal and ideological freedom. He also believes that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will resolve his client’s case “rapidly.”

“Cuixart’s case will have effects on the fundamental rights of the whole of European society. He was convicted of sedition for exercising the right to demonstrate and for exercising freedom of expression after a trial full of irregularities, and therefore, we are facing an unprecedented case. He was imprisoned and convicted for exercising fundamental rights,” said the lawyer.

“There will be either a condemnation of Spain or a condemnation of democracy,” said the Vice-president of Òmnium, Marcel Mauri. “The case of Cuixart is the case of democracy, and it is essential to continue working for self-determination,” he added.

The event was attended by Ed Donovan, advisor to the United Nations Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders; Masha Chichchenkova, Coordinator of Protection to Europe of Front Line Defenders; Giada Negri from the European Civic Forum; the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jody Williams, from the United States; the president of PEN International, Jennifer Clement, from Mexico, and Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organization Against Torture, from Geneva.

Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) Rules that Justification of Francoism Is Protected by Freedom of Expression

On Monday, the plenary of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the governing body of Spain’s justice system, showed their support with 15 votes in favor and 6 against, for a report prepared by judges Roser Bach and Wenceslao Olea, ruling that justification of Francoism is protected by freedom of expression.

The report also questions whether Francisco Franco’s foundation can be outlawed for justifying or defending the dictatorship of Franco and for the incitement of hatred, and violence against the victims of the 1936 coup d’etat.

“A defense of Francoism is the expression of ideas that, despite being contrary to the values of the 1978 Spanish Constitution, are protected by freedom of expression if there is not an additional element of humiliation for the victims,” the report says.

This is a position very different from that taken by Germany, in which justification of Nazism or denying the Holocaust is punishable with up to five years in prison to honor the memory of the victims.

The judiciary also proposes that the definition of a victim of the Civil War and the dictatorship have a “strictly administrative” nature, because “historical truth is not part of the criminal process.”

Catalonia: ERC-Junts Agreement on a Pro-Independence Coalition Government

The deal between ERC and Junts on a pro-independence coalition government is now a reality after almost three months of disputes and a decisive six-way summit between the pro-independence forces ERC, Junts, CUP, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural, and the Council for the Republic, and a subsequent three-way meeting between the three pro-independence parties, pushing towards a deal. These are the new government structure and the key points of the coalition government deal:

Government Structure

Ministries led by ERC

Presidency

Interior

Education

Feminism

Culture

Business and labor 

Climate Action

Ministries led by Junts (will include vice-president)

Economy

Health

Foreign Affairs

Justice

Digital Policies

Research and Universities

Social Rights

Key Points of the Coalition Government Deal:

1- Dialogue and Peaceful Confrontation

The Catalan government will hold negotiations with Spain in an attempt to face and resolve the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain and to put an end to the repression and political persecution of the independence camp. In parallel, both parties call for working firmly to be able to lay out a democratic confrontation [with Spain] that will lead to independence as the Catalan Republic.

2- Referendum

“Only a self-determination referendum held with Spain’s approval can replace the democratic mandate of the October 1 [2017 independence vote] of working to make a Catalan Republic a reality.” Both parties are also committed to joining forces to achieve an amnesty for the political prisoners, exiles, and those activists who have been enduring judicial procedures for their pro-independence activities since the 2010s.

3- International Mediation

The Catalan government will seek “the possible intervention of European and international institutions to achieve an agreement for a referendum.” For that purpose, both parties are committed to “building a favorable public opinion abroad.” They will also coordinate the defense in the judicial cases affecting the 2017 referendum organizers, both in Spain and internationally.

4- Coordination, Leadership, and Roadmap for Independence

A collegiate leadership of the pro-independence movement in coordination with the Catalan Council for the Republic will be created. The three pro-independence parties ERC, Junts, CUP, and the two main pro-independence organizations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Òmnium Cultural will participate from this group. They will all have the task of creating a new roadmap for independence and to prepare and execute mass civil disobedience until the Catalan Republic is achieved. The leadership could be integrated into the Council for the Republic once it has been reformed to represent all the pro-independence forces.

5- Vote of Confidence and Confrontation with Spain in 2023

A vote of confidence on the Catalan government will take place in parliament in the mid-term in 2023. The pro-independence party CUP demanded a vote to make sure they are able to put an end to the legislature if ERC has not complied with agreements on social issues and confrontation with Spain by then. According to parties, there should be a confrontation on social issues starting with the beginning of the legislature and a confrontation for independence in 2023 if negotiations with the state fail. CUP also opens the door to joining the government if the agreements are fulfilled.

6- Mechanism to Prevent Infighting

Junts and ERC will establish a mechanism to restore and preserve the damaged trust between the two to anticipate possible flare-ups like those that took place during the past legislature. To this end, several coordination committees have been created at different levels that will meet periodically to monitor day-to-day issues, both in Parliament and in the government, as well as between the parties.

7- Monitoring of  Deal

A group will be created to monitor the fulfillment of the deal on a regular basis.

The Catalan Council for the Republic Makes the New Digital Identity System Available for the Next Government of Catalonia

The new digital identity system launched by the Council for the Republic last week aims to be a tool for the next Catalan government to disconnect from the Spanish state. This is considered a state structure out of the reach of Spain where the new Catalan state should start to be built. Over 15,000 people have already joined the initiative.

The new ID has an identifying QR code that allows people to “join and access the services of companies from all over the Catalan Countries.” NGO’s, companies, unions and associations are currently negotiating their integration in the system that also aims to create “social cohesion, collective awareness and sovereign spaces that empower citizens.”

The success of the new identification system will be determined by the number of people and organizations that join and operate this new structure, which could replace the Spanish National ID in the future if there is ever a new attempt to create the Catalan republic.

The new ID will cost six euros for the digital format with a QR code and twelve for the physical card, which is made of bamboo, a biodegradable material.

Council for the Republic

The Catalan Council for the Republic is an institution that aims to “promote political, social, cultural and economic activities aimed at the establishment of an independent state in Catalonia in the form of a republic.” It currently has around 96,000 members and is growing every day. The only requirement to join the Council is to be at least 16 years old, to prove your identity, and to make a contribution of a minimum of 10 euros.

Scandal: Over 50,000 Missing Vaccines Were Given to the Spanish Army

The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has admitted that over 50,000 missing vaccine doses from Pfizer and AstraZeneca were given to the Army: 36,100 AstraZeneca jabs and 19,500 Pfizer jabs. She had declined to give explanations publicly as to the exact number of doses, their destination, or why these vaccines did not appear in the official records for weeks.

The vaccination protocols are clear and the military personnel who have received the vaccine do not match the target population requirements: the use of the different Covid-19 vaccines is set by age groups, and the order in the vaccination schedule is based on priority groups.

The first to receive vaccines in the Spanish state were elderly people living in nursing homes along with medical and care home personnel. Only 3,340 military personnel matched those requirements out of over 50,000 doses given to them, so the Ministry of Defense and the Spanish government broke their own protocols at a time when the vaccination in nursing homes and those over 80 had not been completed yet.

It should be remembered that the Pfizer vaccine is specified as being exclusively for administration to health workers, the elderly people in nursing homes, those over 70 age and people with a high degree of dependency.

This controversy over the vaccine distribution is the second Covid scandal to puncture the Spanish Army and the Health Ministry.

Spain’s former chief of defense, Miguel Ángel Villarroya, was vaccinated against Covid-19 before it was his turn. Villarroya resigned. Nevertheless, the Minister of Defense, Robles appointed him as a member of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Hermenegild, of the Air Force, and assigned him to Washington.