Politics 30/05/2022

Judge provisionally shelves investigation into spying on former Speaker and mayoral candidate

Magistrate still has to decide on Òmniums' and CUP's complaints

2 min
Torrente and Maragall, in an archival image

BarcelonaThe judge who for a year and a half has been investigating alleged spying on former Speaker and current Catalan minister for Enterprise and Employment Roger Torrent, and ERC Barcelona mayoral candidate Ernest Maragall has provisionally shelved the case, court sources have told ARA. So far this was the only court case open in Catalonia over Catalangate. In fact, the magistrate who is in charge of Barcelona's examining magistrate's court no. 32 still has to deal with complaints for the alleged spying on about sixty politicians, activists and lawyers, some of which were presented by Òmnium Cultural, CUP and lawyer Andreu van den Eynde, which had been sent from one court to another until they too ended up at court no. 32.

At the beginning of the month, the judge asked for Torrent's and Maragall's phones to analyse them, but neither could hand them in as they were work phones which they gave back after they left their posts, and they have now been wiped. This is the only diligence the judge had carried out in the year and a half the case has been open, in addition to requesting information from the Belgian, Israeli and Irish courts on the company behind the Pegasus operating system. These requests are yet to be answered.

In fact, according to sources consulted, this is one of the arguments the court gave to provisionally close the case until new evidence appears that may allow progress in the case. It is also a way to avoid the deadlines set by law are exhausted without yielding results. Nevertheless, all other complaints over alleged espionage –which were referred to court no.32 as it was perceived to be dealing with a similar case are now left in limbo.

Appeal

Torrent and Maragall's lawyer, Andreu van den Eynde, has presented an appeal to the court asking for the case to be reopened. In the text, first reported by eldiario.es and to which this newspaper has also had access, the lawyer warns that the closure may be a point of "no return" in the investigation if no new evidence appears to justify it being reopened. In fact, the letter reproaches the court for having kept the case "paralysed for more than a year", during which the possibility of archiving it has was considered, and for doing so precisely now, when there are other complaints on the table that involve "much more evidence of massive political espionage".

For the moment, the Prosecutor's Office has not appealed the move. The Public Prosecutor's Office will also have to report on whether the complaints presented by Òmnium, the CUP, ERC and Van den Eynde himself in a personal capacity, which have already been passed on by the 21st, 22nd and 24th examining courts, according to the sources consulted, should be admitted for processing.

This is not the only court case relating to Catalangate. Spain's National Court is also investigating a case relating to alleged spying on Spanish President Pedro Sánchez and ministers Margarita Robles and Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The judge refused to allow the Generalitat to act as prosecution. Former Generalitat president Quim Torra and former deputy Speaker Josep Costa have appealed to the Supreme Court's administrative chamber. Lawyer Gonzalo Boye, who was also a target, has also sued. His case is being handled by the 29th examining magistrate's court in the Spanish capital. Those affected do not rule out opening another legal front in Europe, taking advantage of the presence of the exiled politicians of ERC and Junts. Torra and Costa also want to appeal to Strasbourg.

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