Misc 23/10/2018

Spain: the deep state’s impunity

Below are three different stories with a common denominator: the opacity and impunity with which the state powers go about things in Spain

Antoni Bassas
3 min
Carlos Lesmes, president del Suprem i del CGPJ / EFE

The Supreme Court’s ruling on who is supposed to pay mortgage tax.

These days Carlos Lesmes, the president of Spain’s Supreme Court, is the face that illustrates the shambolic mess that bogs down consumers, public notaries and banks over who is meant to pay mortgage tax in Spain. Last Thursday the Supreme Court ruled that it is down to the banks, but the same court got cold feet only twenty-four hours later.

Justice Lesmes is ultimately responsible for the sorry state the Supreme Court is in, a court whose complete loss of credibility has spilled over the entire justice system. Readers should note that banks have lost a total market cap value of €8.2 billion since last Thursday.

To make matters worse, the matter has been put off until November 5. Experts are still gobsmacked: once the consequences of its ruling became apparent, the court reversed its decision, which constitutes —undoubtedly— a full-on confession of the pressure exercised by financial lobbies. The result of that is plain to see. Yesterday ARA reporters asked banks what procedure they were following when signing a mortgage contract with a client and the situation couldn’t be more confusing. One Caixa branch had interpreted the situation to their client’s advantage, while a BBVA branch had frozen all mortgage operations until a definitive ruling is handed down. As for Banc de Sabadell, an employee at one branch indicated that it was business as usual. In other words, until there is a definitive decision on November 5, clients will continue to foot the tax bill. This was echoed by Caixa d’Enginyers.

It is outrageous that those who brag about legal security should end up with egg all over their faces in front of banks, consumers and the law itself. A number of voices within the Spanish judiciary have already asked Mr Lesmes to step down.

A top police officer insults left-wing and Catalan politicians

We did get a resignation this morning: Police Commissioner Daniel Rodríguez López, the highest-ranking official in Spain’s National Police in Navarre has quit after eldiario.es revealed that he used an anonymous Twitter account to insult left-wing and Catalan politicians while he praised failed coup leader Antonio Tejero and the leader of Vox, a Spanish far-right party. The Twitter account in question was managed from the Commissioner’s official mobile phone, which he used to insult Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, the Basque Nationalist Party (PBN) and Esquerra MP Gabriel Rufián, whom he wished to see gored by a bull in the Sanfermines run.

Can’t we call that a rotten state within the State? Isn’t it a feeling of impunity —or even the certainty that he’d get away with it— that drove the highest-ranking police officer in a region to behave like a lout?

A Catalan photojournalist is assaulted

Unfortunately, this state whose behaviour exhibits traces of the Franco regime is very much alive. Readers will recall the case of Jordi Borràs, the Catalan photojournalist who —according to eyewitness accounts— was assaulted by a Spanish Police officer in plain clothes last July. The policeman recognised Mr Borràs, walked up to him and shouted “Long live Spain!” and “Long live Franco!”, as he punched him in the face several times. Local residents who witnessed the attack tried to stop the assailant, who flashed his police badge. As he was trying to get away, he dropped a switchblade knife he was carrying. It later transpired that he is an officer with the Provincial Intelligence Branch, working for the Prefectura Superior de Policia in Catalonia.

It turns out that a Barcelona court of law has indicted both Mr Borràs and his alleged attacker, who are expected to appear in court next Monday, effectively making no distinction between the victim and the attacker. What have we learnt about this police officer in all these months? Nothing. He has been protected by the State, which has chosen to look the other way and present the incident as a street brawl when, according to eyewitnesses, it was a Franco-cheering policeman who assaulted a journalist.

Here we are three different stories with a common denominator: the opacity and impunity with which the state powers go about things in Spain.

Freedom for all the political prisoners, for those facing charges, for the Catalan exiles.