Commission accuses Spanish government of playing dirty

Catalan Parliament investigation into ‘Operation Catalonia’ finds president Mariano Rajoy and ministers conspired against rivals, such as Catalan pro-independence politicians

The spokespersons of the parties CSQP, JxSí and CUP in the 'Operation Catalonia' Commission (by ACN)
The spokespersons of the parties CSQP, JxSí and CUP in the 'Operation Catalonia' Commission (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 29, 2017 07:12 PM

It has become well-known as “Operation Catalonia”, a dirty war supposedly organized by the former Spanish government’s home affairs ministry to smear political opponents. The case emerged in June last year, when the Spanish newspaper Público published a series of taped conversations between high-ranking officials. Among them was the then acting Spanish Minister of Home Affairs Jorge Fernandez Diaz, who was caught on tape asking the former director of Catalonia’s anti-fraud office, Daniel de Alfonso, for information to discredit political rivals in Catalonia in October 2014.

The Spanish government has repeatedly dismissed these accusations as false. When asked about “Operation Catalonia” in the Spanish Congress in April 2017, the former Spanish home affairs minister said: “To purport that in Spain… not in North Korea, in Spain, political opponents should be investigated, spied upon… frankly, I do not understand it.”

Catalan parliamentary commission investigates

The Catalan Parliament set up a commission in April 2017 to investigate the “Operation Catalonia” case. This special parliamentary commission has now presented its conclusions, in which it accuses the Spanish President Mariano Rajoy and his government, along with police officers and the judiciary, of conspiring against their rivals, such as Catalan pro-independence politicians.

In presenting the conclusions, commission member, Mireia Boya, from the far-left CUP party demanded “responsibility be taken and, out of a sense of ethics and decency, the resignations of Mariano Rajoy, [...] of all those politicians who knew what was being plotted by this political-police brigade.”

The Catalan Parliament will very likely adopt the commission’s conclusions in a plenary session next week, and could also take the case to court. The conclusions are backed by a majority of MPs, including the pro-independence parties and Catalunya Sí que Es Pot, a coalition that includes the Spanish left-wing Podemos party. Other opposition parties did not back them.

Spanish Congress acknowledged existence of Operation Catalonia

The Spanish Congress also acknowledged the existence of an “Operation Catalonia” against high-ranking pro-independence supporters when Fernández Díaz headed the Spanish home affairs ministry. Over a period of three months, a special parliamentary commission of the Spanish Parliament investigated and interviewed suspects in the case.The commission’s conclusions stated that there was an “abuse of power by the Spanish government for political purposes” and suggested that the Spanish home affairs minister was aware of the operation.

Moreover, the conclusions found evidence of a police structure led by former Spanish police chiefs that was set up for “monitoring, investigating and pursuing political adversaries,” in order to obstruct the investigations into corruption scandals affecting the governing right-wing People’s Party (PP). All political parties except the PP backed the conclusions. Yet, unlike what the Catalan Parliament is considering, they were not pursued in court.