Racist Police Assault on a Young Man in Catalonia

On Monday, the anti-racist organization, SOS Racisme, revealed that a young man had suffered a racist assault at the hands of Catalan police officers (Mossos) on January 10th, 2019, in San Felíu Saserra, Catalonia.

The events took place on the afternoon of January 10, 2019, when the victim, Wubi, was leaving his apartment located in the same building in which a police supervised eviction taking place in the same building was underway. SOS Racisme explained how in the parking lot, a group of police officers entered and asked for his identification. As they checked his ID, one of the officers asked him if he was the building’s “gardener,” then “they started throwing garbage bags at him, pushing him, spitting on him and hitting him on the head while making racist insults.”

When Wubi tried to escape from the attack, one of the officers fired a gun at him. Fortunately, the officer missed and the bullet didn’t hit him, according to SOS Racisme. The young man then called his neighbors to warn them, but one of the officers got on the phone and threatened to issue a “search and arrest warrant” for him if he did not return. Faced with this, the young man decided to return while beginning to record the encounter on his cell phone. Once he returned, one of the officers threw him to the ground again, kicked him in the ribs, spat on him and humiliated him with racist insults. “They made me feel worse than shit” the young man said in a statement published by SOS Racisme.

In the audio recorded by the victim and published by the newspaper La Directa, the police officers physically attack the young man while he begs them to stop. “I am a human being just like you,” he said. The officers make racist remarks, such as “you are a monkey, you son of a bitch.” They also told him that the next time he sees the police he will run to Africa. “I’m racist a lot,” said one of the officers.

According to judicial sources, the case about the racist attack was opened in February of 2019 and the officers were charged with a crime of personal injury and a crime against moral integrity. The case is being investigated by the courtroom number 5 of Manresa, the same one that filed the complaint by the police against the victim. The same sources clarify that the six officers investigated were summoned to court last October and exercised their right to not testify. The court case is still open pending further proceedings.

The officers involved in the racist attack have been transferred to different locations and departments during the investigative process, but have not been suspended, granting them impunity.

For SOS Racisme, this case “is not only a consequence of the racist ideology of a group of Mossos officers,” but “is a testament to lack of control mechanisms, impunity, racism and police corporatism.”


Civil Guard Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos’ Dismissal Uncovers Anti-Government Deep State War

Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos’ dismissal has aggravated tensions between the deep state and the Spanish Government.

Colonel De los Cobos was head of the Civil Guard Command in Madrid. He was the coordinator of the police repression against the 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia. And he also testified against (the) Catalan political prisoners during the independence trial in the Spanish Supreme Court, resulting in unjust prison sentences for the Catalan leaders. Amnesty International and several international human rights organizations have repeatedly called for their immediate release.

According to official sources, De los Cobos was dismissed for failing to inform his superiors of a report delivered to the judge about the alleged criminal responsibility of the Spanish government in authorizing a feminist protest on March 8. The official version, however, says that he was dismissed because the ministry had “lost confidence” in him.

The report, full of errors and inconsistencies, points out that the Spanish administration did nothing to prevent the feminist rally on March 8 or other events when there was risk of Covid-19 outbreak. It targets Fernando Simón, director of the Health Emergencies Center, for not highlighting the risks of holding demonstrations, as well as the Spanish government’s delegate in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, for authorizing the protest.

The conservative Judge Carmen Rodríguez-Medel responded to the dismissal of Colonel De los Cobos by citing the Spanish government’s delegate in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, who is accused of prevarication. She also threatened to investigate the Spanish Ministry of Interior if she found out that De los Cobos had been dismissed because of her orders. .

Judge Rodríguez-Medel’s father and brother are also Civil Guards; her brother is the head of the Malaga Command.

In the last few days and following De los Cobos’ dismissal, second-in-command of the Civil Guard, Ceña, resigned and third-in-command, Fernando Santafé, was dismissed, though police sources state that he resigned. This has aggravated the situation and brings to light an existing war between the Spanish government and the deep state.

It is too early to know who will be victorious in this war, but the Spanish far-right movement led by the Vox party, with the collaboration of the right-wing Partido Popular (PP, Popular Party), has launched a virulent campaign against the government, aimed at gaining power by any means.

In the next few months, one of two possible scenarios is likely to play out. The so-called deep state, in collaboration with the far-right, may try to force the Partido “Socialista” Obrero Español (PSOE, Spanish “Socialist” Workers’ Party) to break up the coalition government with Podemos. The other possibility is that the deep state may force a new round of elections, expecting the right-wing party PP and the far-right party Vox to gain enough seats to form a new government with the far-right party Cs’ external support. Such an outcome would likely lead to the implementation of an authoritarian Hungary-style regime.

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.

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.

The Spanish Government Lowers Expectations for the Upcoming “Dialogue” with the Catalan Administration

The Spanish government started this week lowering any expectations for the upcoming “dialogue” between the Catalan and Spanish administrations. The Spanish executive said that it will “remain seated” at the table until a solution to the Catalan crisis is found, but emphasized that it will not occur any time soon. “No-one is expecting any results in the short term,” said Spokeswoman for the Spanish government María Jesús Montero on Tuesday. She also ruled out the use of a mediator, which was aimed at facilitating the success of the negotiations.

On Thursday, Catalan President Quim Torra and Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez continued lowering the expectations. They announced that the negotiating table over the Catalan crisis will kick off this month, but that it will be a long process that will not bring immediate results. Both leaders agreed that the first summit between cabinets in February will be chaired by both heads of government.

Spain’s PM Sánchez insisted that the negotiations will not “yield any results” in the short-term. He also spoke about the need to find a way out of the independence crisis through “solutions within the legal framework and with legal security.”

Sánchez said that the fact that Torra proposed a referendum shows “how far the stances of the both parties are from each other,” thus denying the possibility of such a vote for now. He also rejected the use of a mediator for the negotiations.

President Torra cast doubt on Madrid’s thinking about resolving the conflict: “We don’t know what the Spanish government’s proposal is.”

Torra insisted on the idea of self-determination, but revealed Sánchez’s response: “He answered that their stance remains the same: self-government [of Catalonia] within Spain’s constitution.”

“We are facing a long process, it won’t be easy, it will be complex, this is a path we have to walk,” added Torra.

The agreement on creating negotiations between the Spanish and Catalan governments aimed at solving the Catalan crisis was reached by ERC and PSOE in exchange for facilitating Sánchez’s investiture and the formation of a new government. Since then, the Spanish “Socialist” government has unilaterally broken the agreement several times. Last time was last week when the Spanish government said the dialogue would not start until after the Catalan elections, which are expected to take place between spring and autumn. Finally, Sánchez rectified this saying that the dialogue is due start this month.

Due to the negative attitude of the Spanish administration towards letting the Catalans decide their own future as enshrined in international law, it appears that the dialogue has no hope.

Catalan President Quim Torra Announces Snap Elections Once 2020 Budget Is Passed

On Wednesday, Catalan president Quim Torra announced that he will call a snap election after the 2020 Budget has been approved. The President made it clear that the government had broken down because of the loss of trust among its partners, Esquerra (ERC) and Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), following the decision of the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, to accept the “temporary” withdrawal of his seat as an MP on Monday.

President Torra (JxCat) accused ERC of a “lack of loyalty” and called on the pro-independence camp to “rebuild unity.” He added that before calling a snap election he wanted to approve the Budget and “explore whether Spain’s government has a true desire to enter dialogue and end repression.” He is due to meet Spain’s PM, Pedro Sánchez, in Barcelona on February 6.

ERC issued a statement saying it “respected” the president’s decision to call a snap election. They also said it was important to approve the budget and hold talks with Spain before ending the present term of office.

On Monday, Torra expressed outrage at the parliament’s Speaker, Roger Torrent (ERC), for revoking his MP’s status and thus rendering himself ineligible to vote in the chamber, even though he was still (being) recognized as president.

The President said that we were now facing a new “coup attempt,” and that “repression” had to be “fought” in order to defend the sovereignty of parliament.

“If we don’t face our challenges with solidarity and loyalty within the pro-independence movement, freedom will progressively grow more distant.” Torra urged the pro-independence movement to “re-build” unity through a snap election. “Citizens have to vote for new majorities.”

Trial of Catalan Police Leadership During the 2017 Independence Referendum Week 1, January 20, 21, 22 and 23

The trial of the Catalan police leadership during the 2017 independence referendum begun on Monday in Spain’s National Court. Former Catalan police (Mossos) chief Trapero, the former police director Pere Soler and the former secretary-general of the Catalan interior ministry César Puig are charged with rebellion, whilst former Catalan police superintendent Teresa Laplana is charged with sedition.

Former Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Trapero defended his actions during the 2017 independence bid, as well as the actions of other members of the former Catalan police leadership. He denied any cooperation with the independence bid, or any “close relationship” with the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

Trapero affirmed that the Mossos (Catalan police) didn’t facilitate the referendum and instead applied criteria of proportionality in the actions to not cause greater damage. The former police chief assured that it was “impossible to stop 2.3 million” people who were holding the referendum. “There were not sufficient officers.”

Trapero also said that he offered himself to arrest Catalan president Puigdemont if it was necessary.

Intendant Teresa Laplana

On Wednesday, Teresa Lapana assured that she was “not responsible” for the police operation at the Economy Ministry on September 20, 2017. She affirmed that her task that day was to “transmit Spain’s Civil Guard’s requests to her superiors.”

Laplana: “When I arrived [at the Economy Ministry] there were already a lot of people: around 700 and the number was increasing. There were all kinds of people of all ages, including families, and the attitude was peaceful.”

Laplana also said that she only talked to the former leader of the Catalan civil society organization ANC, Jordi Sànchez, because former police chief Trapero asked her to speak with him about the “detainees’ entry and departure” and also to help the judicial commission leave the building later that same day.

Former director of the Catalan police Pere Soler

On Thursday, Pere Soler explained that all human, material and budgetary resources were used to comply with court orders regarding the referendum. “The number of officers was increased by 800. The whole body of Mossos was mobilized like never before. We made a huge sacrifice.” The former director of the Mossos emphasized that “it was a joint operation” with other Spanish police forces.

Soler dismissed follow-up of Spanish officers as “false.” He said he knew that chief Trapero was against the referendum. “He told me that there could be a public order incident and that he wanted to report it to Minister Joaquim Forn.”

Soler also assured that the former Interior Minister Forn never gave him “instructions for the Mossos to support the referendum.”

Former Secretary-General of Interior Cèsar Puig

On Thursday, Cèsar Puig affirmed that he had no jurisdiction related to the independence referendum. “I had nothing to contribute to strategic or operational issues in relation to the referendum. I was responsible solely for managing resources to comply with court orders.”

Cèsar Puig was named Secretary-General of Interior in 2015 and was dismissed in 2017 in accordance with Article 155 (Spain’s direct rule) in Catalonia. “My role with the referendum was zero. The Government wanted to hold an agreed referendum, but I had no competence in this regard,” emphasized the former Secretary-General.

On the referendum, Puig reiterated that there was a “joint” operation with the Civil Guard and the National Police. He also admitted that he knew that former police chief Trapero and the Mossos were against the referendum.

Jailed Catalan Leader Oriol Junqueras Prepares an Appeal to the General Court of the European Union (EGC)

The defense of jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras is preparing an appeal in the General Court of the European Union (EGC) against the decision of the European Parliament to exclude him as Member of the European Parliament (MEP). Precautionary measures will be required for the EGC to suspend the decision of David Sassoli, President of the Euro-Chamber, and the court will have to determine whether to accept it within a few hours after the appeal is presented.

The General Court of the European Union (EGC) is a constituent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It hears cases against institutions of the European Union by individuals and member states.

According to article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), any citizen can file an appeal against the acts of European institutions that directly affect him/her. The procedure for this appeal may take several months, but the precautionary measures will be pronounced immediately, a few hours after the petition has been registered. The EGC could accept or reject them. If they are accepted, the European Parliament will be obliged to recognize Junqueras as an MEP again.

The parallel route to the ECJ

In parallel with the appeal to the EGC, Junqueras’ defense will file an appeal against the Spanish Supreme Court’s decision to keep him in prison. If this move fails, Junqueras’ defense will appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court for violation of his political and constitutional rights. The next and final step would be to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The EU ParliamentDecision to Recognize Jailed and Exiled Catalan Leaders, Junqueras, Puigdemont and Comín, Causes Political Turmoil

On Monday, the news that the exiled and jailed Catalan leaders Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Oriol Junqueras will be allowed to take up their seats as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) caused immediate political turmoil in Spain. The European Parliament officially announced that it will recognize the Catalan leaders as MEPs through a communique during the morning. This decision came after the European Court of Justice ruled on December 19 that the Catalans leaders have immunity.

While Catalan authorities celebrated the EU Parliament decision, the Spanish far-right and the right-wing, which had been attempting to prevent them from becoming MEPs, accused the EU Parliament of violating Spanish sovereignty and suggested that there had been an under the table agreement between the EU authorities and pro-independence forces, though no evidence was presented.

Regarding Spain’s Electoral Authority’s decision on barring Catalan President Torra from office and to veto Junqueras from becoming MEP despite the European Court of Justice immunity ruling, Torra said he was “proud that both the Catalan Parliament and the EU Parliament had disregarded Spain’s electoral Authority.”

Puigdemont’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, first tweeted a prompt “mission accomplished.” Later he demanded also the annulment of the trial over the 2017 independence referendum because “the trial shouldn’t have taken place due to Junqueras’ immunity.”

Junqueras’ lawyer, Andreu Van den Eynde, called for his client’s release: “Junqueras is an MEP. He has parliamentary immunity. He must be released to be able to go to the European Parliament.”

Spanish far-right and right-wing reaction

The three main unionist parties, Ciutadans (C’s), People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox asked the EU Parliament to revoke its decision recognizing the Catalan leaders as MEPs.

The spokesperson of the PP in the EU Parliament, Dolors Montserrat, accused the EU Parliament President, Sassoli, of an under the table agreement with those seeking Catalan independence. In a letter, Montserrat also recalled that the Spain’s Electoral Authority (JEC) ruled that Junqueras cannot be an MEP because he has been convicted by the Supreme Court. She also defended that the JEC is a “legitimate and competent” body in Spain.

The head of Cs’ delegation to the European Parliament, Luís Garicano, called on the chamber’s president, David Sassoli, to “revoke” and “reconsider” as well as to take into account the Spanish electoral authority veto. Garicano also announced that his party had already appealed the decision.

The head of the People’s Party in Spain, Pablo Casado, criticized the Socialist government’s “inaction” on the matter and called on Sassoli to “revoke his decision on Junqueras, who has been sentenced and barred from office for sedition and misuse of funds.” He also added that his party would “always defend Spanish institutions and respect for the law.”

The leader of the far-right party Vox, Santiago Abascal, accused Brussels of “trampling over Spanish sovereignty” and said that “the enemies of Spain in Europe want to take advantage of us having a treacherous prime minister to weaken our nation further.”

Catalan Leaders: How Does the Mechanism to Withdraw MEPs’ Immunity Work?

The ruling of the EU Court of Justice on Junqueras’ immunity last week caused a political earthquake in Spain. The ruling, which is binding, stated that all candidates become members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and have immunity at the very same moment the results of the European elections are published by national authorities of each state member. This decision means Junqueras should be released immediately and his judgment on the 2017 independence referendum annulled and that exiled Catalan leaders Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín can no longer be extradited nor detained in the euro-zone.

There is however a mechanism that the Spanish Supreme Court could activate if it still wants to prosecute the Catalan leaders, the supplicatory which is based in asking the European Parliament to withdraw the Catalan leaders’ immunity. This procedure, which lasts for several months, would internationalize the Catalan cause to levels never before seen. It would be like a trial on the Spanish Supreme Court, which would provide relevant evidence, clarification and information on the situation of Catalan exiles, as well as the Catalan conflict.

Supplicatory Mechanism

According to Article 9 of the EU Parliament regulations, the competent authority of a Member State, that is, the Supreme Court, can request the President of the European Parliament a petition to suspend a MEP’s immunity. If accepted it is transferred to the legal affairs committee of the Parliament.

There are no deadlines to resolve these sorts of cases, though EU regulation specifies it should be done “as soon as possible.” The legal affairs committee has to issue a recommendation after analyzing the specific case that will eventually be voted on by the plenary.

During this process, the EU Parliament could ask the Spanish Supreme Court “for all information and clarifications it deems necessary to form a criteria” as to whether or not immunity is needed. The MEPs affected, in this case, Junqueras, Comín and Puigdemont, could also take part in the commission to provide further information and defend themselves. The rest of the sessions would be behind closed doors.

Once the committee elevates a proposal to the plenary, it would be debated and voted on during the next EU Parliament plenary session. No amendments could be tabled, but the plenary would have to discuss publicly the reasons for and against the decision rendered on the petition. The Catalan cause and the judgment on the 2017 independence referendum would have extraordinary international visibility.

If the Plenary finally agrees on withdrawing the immunity of the Catalan leaders, the President of the Chamber would notify the Spanish Supreme Court. This, however, doesn’t mean that they would lose their credentials as MEPs, but that the EU chamber allows three of its members to be tried in a country that claims jurisdiction over them. The Spanish Supreme Court would then need to get their extradition; otherwise, the whole procedure to revoke the Catalan leaders’ immunity would have been useless.