Spanish Parliament

PSOE supports inquiry into 'operation Catalonia' but limits its scope to the PP years

The Spanish parliament will investigate the Rajoy government's pressure on Andorran bankers and officials

3 min
Rajoy will try to repeat as candidate to the Moncloa

MadridThe Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is pleased new inquiries are being created in Parliament to investigate the so-called patriotic police, which operated under Mariano Rajoy's People's Party (PP) government. They support this kind of inquiry – as long as it doesn't look any further than the PP government. In fact, this is the condition the PSOE has set to allow the inquiry proposed by Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Catalan Democrats (PDECat), EH Bildu, the Galician National Block (BNG) and the Popular Unitary Candidacy. The Socialists, essential for the initiative to be approved by Parliament, presented an amendment in which they reduced the scope and got rid of the possibility of investigating other governments irregularities not necessarily committed under the PP.

"If the PSOE thinks it will not be affected, it is wrong. The State's ideological repression of the independence movement is a common heritage of all Spanish governments, whether under the PP or the PSOE", defended JxCat MP Josep Pagès, who in 'Kitchen' case inquiry already mentioned the Andorran ramification of 'operation Catalonia'. In fact, during the appearance of former Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz on December 2 last year, Pagès told him that he was under investigation. And Fernández Díaz was left with a poker face: "I have no idea what you are talking about. What is BPA [Banca Privada d'Andorra]?".

Now the Spanish Parliament has agreed to create an inquiry committee which, originally, was called the "alleged interference into the sovereignty of the principality of Andorra by Spanish political leaders, as well as parapolice networks in the so-called Catalonia operation". Among its objectives was to get to the detail of the alleged extortion plot by the Spanish state in 2014 against BPA management and the Andorran government with the connivance of FinCEN, the US Treasury's anti-fraud department, to obtain the Pujol family's bank data, among others. But the parties behind the initiative's intention was also to investigate "any illegal parapolice plot" and "unlawful plots by other government members from that time up to the present".

The name and goals finally approved for the inquiry make clear it will investigate actions of the Ministry of the Interior "during the PP government in relation to alleged irregularities that link high-ranking officials and police commanders with the existence of a parapolice plot". "The commission must have a broader scope than that proposed in the [original] initiative," PSOE MP Felipe Sicilia explained, who stressed that in recent months new audios have surfaced between former PP leaders and former police superintendent José Manuel Villarejo. In fact, a National Court judge has opened a new case to analyse the recordings. On the other hand, he ruled out charging former PP number 2 María Dolores de Cospedal again, as requested by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. Sicilia stressed that, in the last five years, it will be the fourth inquiry into the PP's government.

"The reason of state above anything else"

While the PSOE wants to redirect the investigation towards the PP, the ERC MP Pilar Vallugera wanted to make it clear that the criticism is against a state that has as an "imaginary the corollary «one, great and free» [Franco's motto]". She continued: "They are willing to violate borders (allegedly), pressure bankers (allegedly), coerce and forge (allegedly). Because the reason of state comes above anything else".

The PDECat's Genís Boadella denounced a "complete violation of fundamental rights" and "negligent action by public authorities" in the case of the Andorran side of 'operation Catalonia', and has asked PSOE "not to look the other way". On behalf of EH Bildu, Jon Iñarritu also pointed out that under Socialist governments, practices such as the granting of medals and "golden retirements" to high-ranking officials involved in illegal plots have continued. In fact, the Spanish government has maintained diplomatic immunity for Celestino Barroso, the Ministry of the Interior's attaché in Andorra when operation Catalonia was underway.