Four Years since the Spanish Military Police Force Civil Guard Stormed Several Departments of the Government of Catalonia

Last Monday, September 20th, marked four years since the Civil Guard, a Spanish military police force, stormed several departments of the government of Catalonia and the headquarters of the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) in an attempt to prevent the October 1st independence referendum. In response, over 60,000 Catalans peacefully demonstrated outside the Department of the Economy, where the main police operation was taking place, in defense of the government of Catalonia. This peaceful demonstration was used by the Spanish state as an excuse to jail civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, by accusing them of sedition.

Both leaders recalled the events during an interview for “El Matí de Catalunya Ràdio,” and stated that it was a “trap” set up by the State. “We had never imagined ending up in prison due to the events that took place outside the Department of Economy that day.”

Jordi Cuixart said, “That day was a turning point in the defense of fundamental rights. Catalan society was empowered in a non-violent way.”

Jordi Sànchez: “We did what was right in the face of an absolutely irresponsible decision by a judge to allow the Spanish police to enter government offices to try to prevent the independence referendum on October 1st.”

Both of them also stated that the fact that police officers left firearms in a car of the Civil Guard with the doors open in front of the protesters is clear evidence that what happened four years ago was a “trap.”

Jordi Cuixart: “In a democratic country there would have been an investigation into why there was a police car with weapons inside and the doors open.”

Cuixart and Sànchez also affirmed that the independence movement remains active as shown in the last elections and the mass demonstration for the National Day of Catalonia where over 400,000 people took to the streets demanding independence. “The demand for self-determination remains stronger than ever and the sovereignty movement is still standing,” they added.

Jordi Sànchez, who is now leader of Junts party, also confirmed that he had filed an appeal against his 9-year prison sentence for sedition to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the “continuous violation of fundamental rights” he has suffered.

Spain’s Judiciary Head Carlos Lesmes Criticizes the Pardoning of Catalan Leaders

Earlier this week, the President of Spain’s Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Carlos Lesmes, criticized the Spanish government for granting partial and reversible pardons to nine Catalan pro-independence leaders who were sentenced to a decade in prison for exercising fundamental rights during the 2017 independence push.

“It has come to oppose, to explain indulgence, concord in the face of resentment, as if the action of justice in enforcing the law were an obstacle to coexistence,” said the president of the Supreme Court, and insisted that the judges’ task does not correspond to the idea of taking revenge or the expressing resentment. Justice is not and never has been an obstacle to peace, but the instrument to safeguard peaceful coexistence among citizens.”

Lesmes also called on the two largest Spanish political parties, the neoliberal “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the right-wing Popular Party (PP) to reach an agreement on renewing the Council of the Judiciary. However, he has been ignoring calls for him to step down in order to force the renewal, despite the fact that his democratic mandate expired over 1,000 days ago. This phenomenon is not seen in a truly democratic country.

The PP already announced that it does not intend to facilitate the renewal of the council and PSOE accuses them of having hijacked the body. Specifically, a reinforced majority of three-fifths of the Cortes is required in order to renew the 21 members, who are “prestigious” judges or jurists. They are appointed by Congress (10) and Senate (10), and elect their president, who is currently Carlos Lesmes.

Lesmes and the majority of members of the Council are conservative judges with links with the PP and the far-right Vox. Both parties are trying to block all efforts to appoint new members since the council is an effective tool for them to use against progressive forces and pro-independence movements.

Whether the EU will sanction Spain for this non-democratic situation is still unknown, but what is certain is that this situation is only found in authoritarian regimes.

A Year Since Former King Juan Carlos Fled Spain Over Allegations of Corruption

“Now, guided by the conviction of giving the best service to the Spaniards, to their institutions and to you, as King, I inform you of my deliberate decision to move, for the time being, out of Spain.” With these words, the Emeritus King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, informed the current monarch, Felipe VI, that he was fleeing the state pushed by allegations of corruption, illegal commissions, and money laundering. This move was made to evade justice and to clean up the image of his son and the remaining monarchy.

The ex-king is currently living a life of luxury on Zaya Nuri Island, a 15-minute boat ride from Abu Dhabi, as revealed by Spanish media. “It is an exclusive refuge for potentates, with a five-star hotel complex and eleven large mansions, where restaurants and leisure venues do not have opening hours, but open when their select clientele wishes to visit them. The mansion where the King Emeritus is staying has 1,050 square meters and 4,100 more plots, with six bedrooms, seven toilets, a swimming pool, and access to a private beach.”

Juan Carlos is under the protection of his friend Mohamed bin Zayeb Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince and strongman of the United Arab Emirates and the Spanish state that, despite all the cases of corruption is still providing him personal security through a permanent escort of four agents of the Spanish Civil Guard, to whom the Spanish Ministry of the Interior pays the allowances, salary and travel expenses. To make matters worse, he also has three shift assistants. A cost that has not yet been determined because the Spanish government has refused to make it public.

Investigations on the corruption of Juan Carlos

Illegal commissions

In June 2020, the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation against Juan Carlos for alleged crimes of money laundering and tax crime. It involves the possible commission of one hundred million dollars for his mediation to give a Spanish company the contract for the construction of a high-speed rail line AVE to join the cities of Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The millions ended up deposited in the Mirabaud bank in Geneva, Switzerland, in an account owned by an offshore company called the Lucum Foundation – which disappeared in 2012 – of which Juan Carlos was the first beneficiary and his son the second, though the latter ended up renouncing his personal inheritance from his father after it was alleged that he was set to receive millions of euros from a secret offshore fund linked to Saudi Arabia.

Royal black cards

The second case investigates the expenses with opaque credit cards of Juan Carlos and a few relatives. These funds allegedly came from Nicolás Murga Mendoza, assistant to the emeritus king and colonel of the Spanish Air Force, who supposedly acted as an iron fist to facilitate the family’s access to the money of Mexican millionaire Jesús Sanginés-Krause. Bank movements and expenses were made after the abdication of Juan Carlos, so it was no longer inviolable. In relation to this point, the lawyers of the emeritus communicated on December 9 a regularization payment of 678,393.72 euros to the “Tax Authorities” in an attempt to evade justice.

Hidden money on the Island of Jersey

The Public Ministry opened a third investigation seeking to find out whether Juan Carlos hid ten million euros on the island of Jersey. This investigation was opened after receiving a report from the Executive Service of the Bank of Spain’s Money Laundering Prevention Commission (SEPBLAC) on a “hidden fortune.”

Additional Investigations

Switzerland

Prosecutor Yves Bertossa opened an investigation on the offshore structures with which Juan Carlos allegedly managed the “donation” from the Saudi monarchy and other expenses through the entities Zagatka and Lucum. Bertossa is also investigating the donation of part of this money to his ex-lover Corinna Larsen, who sued the monarch and the Spanish secret services before the British High Court for subjecting her to illegal “surveillance” in the United Kingdom “from 2012 to the present.”

Arms trafficking and tax evasion

A recent journalistic investigation published in the newspaper Público indicates that the emeritus would have enriched himself through tax evasion and arms trafficking, as well as through the collection of commissions through a network of businessmen and magnates such as the Saudi Adnan Khashoggi or the king of Saudi Arabia, Salmán Bin Abdulaziz.

Spain’s Public Prosecutor Punishes the Pro-Independence Movement for Its Historic Results in the Last Elections

Earlier this week, the Spanish public prosecutor took to the Supreme Court a lower court’s decision to provisionally keep an open prison regime for the nine jailed Catalan leaders Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Jordi Sànchez and Joaquim Forn.

The nine political prisoners obtained the “low” prison category status in late January, allowing them to leave jail during the day, sleep in their cells at night, and go home on weekends, after over three years behind bars.

It’s the second time the Catalan leaders have seen their prison privileges taken before the Supreme Court. Their low category status was already revoked two months ago.

In this new appeal, the prosecutor is confident that the Supreme Court will overturn the penitentiary court judge’s decision and order the re-imprisonment of the political prisoners. The prosecutor considers the arguments presented by the judge of the penitentiary court in favor of the maintenance of their privileges to be “erroneous” and claims that they should not apply while serving a sentence for sedition. The Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, has always accepted the prosecutor’s demands. There are no signs it will be any different this time either.

Punishment

The pro-independence movement has interpreted this move as a punishment for getting historic results in the last Catalan elections, surpassing 50% of the popular vote for the first time, with 52%.

It is also seen as interference in the ongoing negotiations between the pro-independence parties, ERC, Junts and CUP, for the formation of a new government in which CUP, an anti-capitalist party, could assume institutional responsibilities for the first time, something the Spanish establishment, the deep state and government are trying to prevent by any means.

Whether the Spanish government and the deep state will be able to prevent a pro-independence government in Catalonia is still to be seen, but in the meantime, with each act of interference, the pro-independence movement appears to be stronger.

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

On Tuesday, Amnesty International called once again for the immediate and unconditional release of jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, thus bringing an end to the “injustice” they have been suffering for three years, during which they have been in prison.

The two pro-independence activists were jailed for their roles in the 2017 independence push, when they held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Ministry of the Economy. Both Sànchez and Cuixart were leaders of civic organizations, ANC and Òmnium, at the time of their jailing and were not members of any political party that carried out the 2017 independence referendum.

Amnesty considers their imprisonment “disproportionate” and that it “violates their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.” The organization presented a technical report in 2019 based on international law that points out the “vagueness” of the crime of sedition for which Cuixart and Sànchez were convicted and states that Spain’s state powers “have the opportunity to correct the effects of an unjust sentence against human rights.”

The writ was presented to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Constitutional Court, the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for Constitutional and Human Rights.

After the publication of the report, Jordi Sànchez remarked that “freedom of expression protected him while demonstrating in front of the Ministry of the Economy on September 20, 2017” and that “his arrest, accusation, and conviction had no legal basis.” Meanwhile, Cuixart called on Spain’s PM, Pedro Sánchez, to “comply” with international law and act to free the prisoners.

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.

The Spanish Government Still Provides Protection For Former King Juan Carlos I

On Monday, Spain’s interior minister, Marlaska, confirmed that the Spanish government was still providing protection for former King Juan Carlos I, who fled the country last week over allegations of corruption and money laundering. He is believed to have settled in a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi. The cost per night is over €10,000.

Marlaska: “It is reasonable and timely that the Minister of the Interior does not give any information about it [where the King is], but what no one can forget is that we are talking about the person who was the head of State in Spain. His security obviously concerns the Spanish state.”

PM Pedro Sánchez affirmed that he didn’t know the whereabouts of the monarch, but the minister of the interior’s statements suggests his administration is closely monitoring the former king’s steps.

Last week, the state-owned public broadcaster RTVE revealed that the government had been negotiating the self-imposed exile of the monarch with the Royal House over a period of weeks, meaning it had helped the monarch to flee the country.

Investigations

Juan Carlos is under investigation in Spain for his role in a deal in which a Spanish consortium landed a €6.7 billion contract to build a high-speed rail line between the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca.

Swiss prosecutors are also investigating a $100 million bank account held by the monarch in the country. According to the investigations, Juan Carlos allegedly received a “donation” of $100 million from the king of Saudi Arabia that he put in an offshore account in 2008. A few years later, he allegedly “gifted” 65 of those millions from that account to his ex-lover Corinna Larsen.

It is still too early to know whether Swiss and Spanish justice will convict the former king, Juan Carlos I, of corruption and money laundering. However, this case has already shown that the Spanish government has helped someone under investigation over corruption and money laundering to flee the country and is still providing him protection. There is, then, little doubt the Spanish administration is trying to shore up the 78 regime.

What Neutral Judiciaries Never Do in Democracies: The President of the General Council of the Spanish Judiciary (CGPJ) Publicly Speaks Against the Catalan Pro-Independence Movement and International Observers

On Tuesday, the President of the Spanish Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Carlos Lesmes, defended the actions of the judiciary against the Catalan pro-independence movement in the judicial forum of the Madrid Bar Association. He defined it as the “challenge of Catalan institutions that seek to promote the unilateral independence of this part of the national territory by violating the mandates of our constitution.”

According to Lesmes, the judiciary faced campaigns by the pro-independence movement intended to discredit it. “I want to remember campaigns of genuine defamation aimed very specifically at the judiciary, which was described as Franco’s or fascist justice that did not recognize or guarantee human rights,” he said.

Lesmes also defended the 2019 independence trial led by Judge Manuel Marchena, who considered it to be “full of guarantees.” He said “the process had met all the procedural guarantees,” despite the fact that a number of prestigious human right organizations contradicted him and called for the immediate release of the Catalan political prisoners.

He also criticized the fact that international observers wanted to attend the trial. “They wanted to put the suspicion that that Francoist court would make a trial without any guarantees,” he said and defended, as an example, the fact that the Supreme Court made a live online broadcast of the trial.

Official tweet from the Spanish Judiciary: “Regarding the independence challenge, the president of the #TS [Supreme Court] has highlighted the work of judges and magistrates in a situation of special significance for democracy in Spain. Justice responded with the necessary firmness.”

These statements by the highest authority of the Spanish judiciary aroused criticism and accusations from the pro-independence camp.

President Torra: “There is no ‘challenge,’ there are democrats; there is no ‘firmness,’ there is revenge.”

Jailed Catalan leader Jordi Turull: “We guarantee you a just trial and then we will shoot you. Preparing the atmosphere again for the judicial decisions that must come towards independentists, which are not few.”

Jailed Catalan leader Jordi Cuixart: “They do not hide: it was a Trial at Democracy, a State Trial against the independentists at the cost of condemning fundamental rights. See you at the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights] in Strasbourg!”

Newspaper El Confidencial Reveals the Existence of a Secret Document that Implicates Spain King’s Emeritus Juan Carlos I with the Management of an Instrumental Company to Hide €64.8 Million from Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday, newspaper El Confidencial announced that it had access to a private document signed by Spain’s King’s emeritus, Juan Carlos I, which implicates him in the management of an “offshore” structure used to “hide” €64.8 million euros from Saudi Arabia. In the three documents, Juan Carlos I appears as the first beneficiary of the funds of the Panamanian society, the Lucum Foundation. His son and current King appears as second beneficiary.

The documents show that the Lucum Foundation was created in Panama on July 31, 2008, by a Swiss financial manager, Arturo Fasana, and the lawyer Dante Canonica. Fasana became the president, and Canonica secretary.

The Lucum Foundation was created to act as a front for an account in Switzerland at the Mirabaud bank that received “a donation of €64.8 million made by the King of Saudi Arabia to the King of Spain.”

On March 10, 2011, the Swiss lawyer and Arturo Fasana established the internal regulations by which it would be governed. The new statutes nullified “any previous regime” of the company and appointed Juan Carlos I, King of Spain (Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón) as true owner of the foundation, born on January 5, 1938 in Rome, Italy, meaning that the €64.8 million donation by Saudi Arabia was now property of the Spanish monarch, according to the secret documents. The monarch enjoyed full rights to “freely dispose of the assets of the foundation during his lifetime without any limitation.”

The documents also reveal that if Juan Carlos I died, the money would be under the control of the “second beneficiary,” the current King Felipe VI, “Prince Felipe of Bourbon and Greece, Prince of Asturias, born on January 30, 1968 in Madrid.”

“Following the death of the first beneficiary, the second beneficiary will have the right to dispose of all the assets of the foundation, without any limitation,” the document states.

The conditions for accessing the money
There were some conditions required for Spain’s King Felipe V to access the money from the foundation. According to the documents, the current head of state had to comply the stipulations in his father’s will that the funds that remained after his death be used to “guarantee the maintenance of all members of the Spanish royal family, in particular, from SM Queen Sofía of Spain, to S.A.R. the Infanta Elena de Borbón y Grecia, Duchess of Lugo, and her children born or to be born, of S.A.R. the Infanta Cristina de Borbón y Grecia, Duchess of Palma of Mallorca, and her children born or to be born.”

In other words, in practice, the entire royal family and even possible new members, such as future children of the infantas, appeared as beneficiaries of the account in Switzerland.

Dissolution in 2012
The foundation was dissolved in September 2012. By then, the King Emeritus had only spent a small part of the €64.8 million ($100 million at the time) that he had received from Saudi Arabia as an alleged donation. The monarch transferred the remaining money to his then lover, Corinna Larsen, and closed the Panamanian structure.