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 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.

The Self-Proclaimed “Most Progressive Government in History” Helps Former King, Juan Carlos I, Flee Spain Over Corruption and Money Laundering Allegations

On Monday, the Spanish Royal House confirmed what many already knew: former King Juan Carlos I had fled Spain following allegations of crimes of corruption and money laundering that have harmed the reputation of the monarchy including his son, King Felipe VI. According to the Spanish media, Juan Carlos is currently staying in a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

He is currently under investigation by the Spanish Supreme Court 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.

The former king lost his immunity in June 2014 following his abdication, meaning he can be tried in Spain, though there are suspicions the Spanish Supreme Court, a body never reformed during the so-called “transition,” could favor him.

The self-proclaimed “most progressive government in history” officially said it “respected” the decision of the King Emeritus to leave Spain. 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.

Podemos party said that they did not know anything about the negotiations, even though they are a part of the government. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, Podemos should have quit the coalition immediately. Instead, its leader, Pablo Iglesias, called for people to understand that PSOE and Podemos have different views of the monarchy and ruled out any risk of rupture of the coalition government.

What Podemos seems to forget is that they are co-responsible for any action taken by the government — they form part of it. The reality is that their government allegedly helped Juan Carlos flee the country in the midst of serious investigations for alleged corruption and money laundering — this is unacceptable.

Sooner or later, an international independent investigation should take place into how Juan Carlos fled the country. Many clarifications are still needed:

– Did he flee the country with an official plane?

– Does he still have an official escort?

– Has the government provided him any financial assistance?

– What government/s are giving him sanctuary?

– Who allowed him to go?

– What are the legal aspects of this?

– Did the government do anything illegal in negotiating his exit while he is being investigated?

– etc.

Whether this investigation will take place in the future is still unknown, but this case has already shown that the so-called “most progressive government in history,” is not so very progressive and is actually contributing to the shoring up of the 78 regime.

Catalan Political Prisoners Granted 3rd Degree Category Status, Lowest Prison Category

On Tuesday, the Generalitat (Catalan government) ratified the 3rd degree category status for all the Catalan political prisoners. The “semi-liberty” regime means they can leave prison on weekends, but continue to spend weeknights behind bars.

They were locked behind bars during a 2 year long pre-trial detention before being sentenced last October to serve prison terms of 9 to 13 years by Spain’s Supreme Court, an unfair decision that caused social unrest across the country.

On July 2, the prison boards proposed the 3rd degree status for the nine jailed Catalan leaders: Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez. This was ratified by the Catalan justice department on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the final decision rests with the Spanish Supreme Court. The Prosecutor’s Office has already announced that it will appeal. Awaiting the court’s final decision, the jailed Catalan leaders will continue enjoying the third degree status.

Minister of the Presidency, Meritxell Budó, said on this matter: “I could tell them that it is good news that they have given the third degree to the prisoners, but they should be released.”

Jailed Catalan leader Raül Romeva: “Third degree is just another way to continue to pay a 12-year prison sentence and disqualification.”

Romeva: “Tonight I will spend my 875th night in prison. Tomorrow, the 876th. And so on, because the third degree status is just another way to continue serving a sentence of 12 years in prison and disqualification. Freedom is not the third degree, but it is amnesty. “

It’s worth mention that the third degree (“semi-liberty”) regime is not freedom. The jailed Catalan leaders are political prisoners who should not have been sent to prison in the first place, as several international human rights organizations have repeatedly said.

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.

Catalan Interior Ministry Announces that 50 Catalan Police Officers (Mossos) Are Under Investigation for Alleged Irregularities and Violence, but only One Officer Has Been Suspended

On Monday, the Catalan Interior Ministry presented an audit to assess possible police irregularities and announced that 50 Catalan police officers (Mossos) were under investigation for their alleged violence during the protests against the sentencing of jailed Catalan pro-independence leaders last October.

The officers under investigation are being tried in 34 different proceedings. Human rights organizations denounced the excessive use of force by the Catalan and Spanish police during the protests.

Catalan Interior Minister, Miquel Buch, said that there were 877 demonstrations in Catalonia following the Supreme Court ruling. He added that there were “violent episodes” during 20% of these protests. The protests left around 600 people injured, mostly unarmed, peaceful civilians.

Despite the condemnations of police violence by human rights organizations, Eduard Sallent, the head of Catalonia’s police, Mossos, who has been involved in controversies often, defended how the officers dealt with the protests, stressing that their attitude was “mostly passive and defensive.”

For now, only one officer has been suspended, according to Sallent.

The presentation of the audit became mired in controversy because not all media organizations were notified about the event and some journalists were not allowed to attend it despite the fact that there was space inside the Egara auditorium. ERC and CUP deputies also denounced that the parliamentary group that is part of the Interior Committee was not allowed to attend the press conference.

There has been complete secrecy of the Mossos on the audit and alleged irregularities in the last few months. Little information has been released and the presentation of the document earlier this week has raised many questions. Awaiting the outcome of all the investigations currently underway, Catalan society expects openness and more transparency from a police force that is expected to protect all citizens equally regardless of their political affiliation and ethnicity.

Spain’s Supreme Court Public Prosecutor Investigates King Emeritus, Juan Carlos I, for Money Laundering

On Monday, Spain’s Supreme Court Public Prosecutor began proceedings to investigate King Emeritus, Juan Carlos I, for money laundering and fiscal crime. The investigation was initiated by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and has now been taken over by the public prosecutor.

The investigation focuses on the criminal activities which occurred after June, 2014, when the monarch abdicated and his immunity, enshrined in article 56.3 of the Spanish constitution as head of state, terminated.

The investigation originates from a case uncovered by the Swiss newspaper, Geneva Tribune, in March. It reported that the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office was investigating a “donation” of $100 million from the King of Saudi Arabia to Spain’s King Emeritus in a Swiss bank account for an alleged inter-mediation in the AVE contract to Mecca.

The transfer was made at the Mirabaud bank of the Panamanian Lucum foundation, linked to the emeritus king in 2008. The king closed the account in 2012 when Switzerland tightened its anti-money laundering legislation and distributed the remaining money to two of his ex-partners: $65 million to Corinna Larsen and $2 million to Marta Gayá.

Corinna Larsen revealed the commission received by Juan Carlos I in a secret conversation with former police Commissioner, José Villarejo, jailed in 2017 for criminal organization, bribery and money laundering. In the conversation, Corinna asserted that the king took that commission and that he used figureheads to hide his fortune. “He does not distinguish between legal and illegal.”

The alleged commission was paid in 2008, but the investigators must determine whether the king laundered money by moving it around, or if he committed a fiscal crime by not informing the Treasury of his income abroad.

Prosecutor Juan Ignacio Campos, an expert in economic cases, will lead the inquiry, which will look into the events in which Juan Carlos was involved from June 2014. The emeritus king cannot be tried for anything occurred before due to his immunity.

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Calls for the Annulment of the Convictions of Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez Over 2017 Peaceful Demonstration

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) has demanded the annulment of the convictions of jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez over the 2017 peaceful demonstration.

In a letter sent to Spain’s PM, Pedro Sánchez, the OMCT Secretary General, Gerald Staberock, demands that their sentences be suspended until the Constitutional Court rules on their appeal, which was accepted for consideration on May 6.

Staberock calls on the Spanish state to respect the people’s freedom of expression and assembly enshrined in international treaties that have been adopted by Spain.

“Based on the analysis of the facts, the course of the trial and the content of Judgment No. 459/2019, two elements are of particular concern. The first of these is that the Supreme Court’s ruling violated Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez’s individual rights. The verdict also sets a precedent that could negatively impact the effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly in Spain,” says the anti-torture organization.

Staberock also calls for modification of the crime of sedition in a way that “establishes safeguards against possible restrictions to the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Cuixart and Sànchez were convicted for sedition by the Spanish Supreme Court in October 2019 for their roles in a peaceful demonstration in 2017.