Misc 03/12/2020

Government seeks prosecution of retired army officials who chatted about shooting "26m sons of bitches"

The Minister of Defence passes a file to the prosecutors office which points to a crime of usurpation of public functions

Mariona Ferrer I Fornells
3 min
La ministra de Defensa, Margarita Robles, ha presentat l'escrit davant de la Fiscalia per si hi veu indicis d'un delicte d'usurpació de funcions.

MadridThe Spanish government does not want the campaign of a sector of retired Spanish Army high officials to go unpunished. Using a very belligerant tone, they are trying to build pressure to overthrow Pedro Sánchez, even if it is through a coup d'état. The Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, has put at the disposal of the Public Prosecutor's Office of the High Court of Justice of Madrid the content of a group of WhatsApp published yesterday, Wednesday, by the digital media Infolibre, in which retired army officials talk of "shooting 26 million sons of bitches", supposedly in reference to all those citizens who support the current state executive.

In the letter, to which ARA has had access, Robles suggests to the public prosecutor that the "facts reflected could constitute a crime" because they are people who could be "thought to be part of the active military". In other words, they could be committing an alleged crime of usurpation of functions. It also stresses that it is the responsibility of the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate any possible criminal offence, as well as "safeguard the honour and public esteem of the armed forces and the men and women who make them up, who are committed to carrying out the duties set out in article 8 of the Constitution".

According to an interview with Cadena SER on Wednesday night, retired air force lieutenant colonel José Ignacio Domínguez, a member of the controversial chat but contrary to the content of the chat, the "radicalisation" of the messages - which would also have considered "bombing" the ANC - began in March, coinciding with the moment of "agitation and tension" of Vox's antigovernment agitation as a result of the pandemic. "A chat room of a group of friends became an appendix of Vox," he denounced. That same month, the ex-soldier said, "the possibility of a pronunciamiento began to be discussed" through the mobilisation of other former army officials. A plan that, according to his version, ended up being considered "unviable" and led to the need to seek the support of Philip VI via letter.

Actions "totally alien" to the active military

The Spanish government has taken no action regarding the missive sent to the king by some seventy former army commanders, but it is with respect to the WhatsApp group in which some of them participated and which this Wednesday generated a heated discussion in Congress between the Socialist deputy Odón Elorza and the deputy spokesperson of Vox, Macarena Olona. Elorza recalled that in the chat an audio message was sent by the leader of the ultra party, Santiago Abascal, in which he greeted the group, and challenged him to explain whether he wanted to shoot 26 million Spaniards. The far-right spokeswoman disassociated the party from the chat but did emphasise that it was "his people" who sent a letter to the king calling for an end to the "social-communist government" with the support of "ETA supporters and separatists".

Lieutenant Colonel Dominguez was convinced on Wednesday that the extreme right-wing party is "behind" the "movement" of the retired military, but he also added that they are a small percentage of "nostalgic" for the Franco regime, a thesis that the defence minister subscribes to. According to Robles, "the exemplary conduct" of the army "has nothing to do with demonstrations that repulse the respect that must be had in a democratic society based on political and ideological freedom". And she points out that the active military "must not have their public esteem, earned through their constant dedication to their duty, to Spanish society and to those who are most seriously suffering the consequences of the pandemic, due to actions that are totally alien to them and that could also deserve a criminal reproach".

Iglesias rules out a government intervention

Shortly before the defence movement and in an interview with TVE, the Spanish second vice-president and leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, had made it clear that neither the messages to WhatsApp nor the harsh letter to Philip VI posed any "threat" and did not "represent" the active armed forces, reports Marc Toro. In this sense, in fact, he had ruled out an intervention by the Moncloa against the "barbarities" expressed by the former soldiers. "They are retired," he had argued. Discarding also the need for the king to make a pronouncement distancing himself from these opinions - he has shown himself to be convinced that the King's House will not even read the missive - he has added that "surrounding the monarchy with Francoism" contributes to staining its role of "neutrality" and that, in the end, it helps to gain followers for the republican cause.