Spanish Parliament to investigate operation aimed at smearing pro-independence process

February 16, 2017 07:24 PM | ACN

The Spanish Parliament will finally create a committee to investigate whether the Spanish Ministry for Home Affairs plotted to discredit Catalonia’s pro-independence process. According to a police report published last July, the so-called ‘Operation Catalonia’ was launched during last Conservative People’s Party (PP) term of office, involving former Spanish Minister for Home Office, Jorge Fernández Díaz and Inspector José Villarejo, amongst many others. Indeed, Fernández Díaz will have to appear before the Committee in relation to several tapes published last June which proved how he and former Director of Catalonia’s Anti-fraud Office, Daniel De Alfonso, plotted to discredit Catalonia’s main pro-independence parties. The creation of this Committee was first requested by left wing pro-independence ERC, former liberal ‘Convergència’, now renamed as the Catalan European Democratic Party PDeCAT and the Spanish Socialist Party, but was delayed due to Fernández Díaz’s serious illness.

Catalan researchers discover that green tea improves intellectual ability in people with Down syndrome

June 9, 2016 07:31 PM | ACN

A compound in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate, along with a protocol of cognitive stimulation, improves the intellectual ability of people with Down syndrome. Additionally, this compound may actually modify excitability, and functional connectivity of the brain, as discovered in a phase 2 clinical trial carried out by a team of scientists led by the Mar Institute of Medical Research (IMIM) and the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, along with a research group specialising in neuropharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Neuroscience Integrated Systems. Dr. Rafael de la Torre, one of the researchers working on the project, said that he expressed “surprise” at seeing that the results and changes also “suggest that the functional connectivity of neurons in the brain is modified”. The next step for De la Torre and for the head of the Cellular Neurobiology and Systems at the CRG and principal author of the study, Dr. Dierssen, is to move forward and conduct these studies on children, in which brain plasticity is not as limited.

International study involving Catalan researchers concludes that two tsunamis destroyed coasts on Mars

May 31, 2016 10:47 AM | Maria Bélmez / Laerke Saura

An international study with Catalan participation from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) has revealed that the coasts on Mars were destroyed by tsunamis. The study has been published in “Scientific Reports-Nature” and explains that two tsunamis that were produced millions of years apart reduced the level of the ocean and made the climate significantly colder. The tsunamis appear to have been created by the impacts of 30-km-wide meteors. The discovery gives an answer to the question of why scientists couldn’t recognise its shorelines if there really had been an ocean on Mars about 3.4 billion years ago.

Former Catalan Minister Francesc Homs investigated for organising the 9-N symbolic consultation

May 19, 2016 06:38 PM | ACN

Former Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Frances Homs, is being investigated by Spain’s Supreme Court for helping to organise the 9-N symbolic vote on independence in 2014. Homs, who is currently the leader of Catalan coalition ‘Democràcia i Llibertat’ in the Spanish Parliament, is accused of disobedience, perversion of justice and misappropriation of public funds, the same charges for which former Catalan President Artur Mas, former Vice-President Joana Ortega and former Catalan Minister of Education Irene Rigau were also summonsed last October. Homs lamented the “low democratic quality” of the Spanish State and assured that he will testify before the court “carrying the pro-independence flag”. 


Leader of Spanish extreme right organisation Manos Limpias arrested for coercion

April 15, 2016 02:37 PM | ACN

The Spanish Police’s division for Economic and Fiscal crimes (UDEF) arrested this Friday Miguel Bernard, the leader of Spanish extreme right organisation Manos Limpias, for having allegedly extorted several banks and companies, asking them for money in exchange for not promoting legal actions against them. Luis Pineda, the president of the Association of Banking Users, Ausbanc, has also been arrested for the same crime and the investigation is still ongoing. Manos Limpias is a trade union of public employees, which has promoted several investigations and judicial procedures concerning different public figures and renowned companies in Spain. In 2014 they presented a criminal complaint against former Catalan President Artur Mas for charges of rebellion and sedition and also sued pro-independence grassroots organisation Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and its former President, Carme Forcadell.


Spanish police search 15 residences, offices and companies linked to former President Pujol’s family

October 27, 2015 03:28 PM | ACN / Sara Prim

Spanish police entered this morning the house of the President of the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 and founder of the centre-right Catalan nationalist coalition CiU in the 1970s, Jordi Pujol. The officers searched for documentation related to Pujol’s eldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, who is currently indicted for alleged fiscal fraud and money laundering and at the centre of most of the ongoing judicial investigations involving the family. 15 other addresses were also searched this morning by Spanish police, including Jordi Pujol Jr’s office and other residences and companies related to Pujol’s eldest son’s businesses in Barcelona and Madrid. The operation is run by the Spanish 'Audiencia Nacional', which is a court investigating and ruling on organised crime, terrorism and international fiscal offences. Earlier this year, former Catalan President and founder of the centre-right Catalan nationalist coalition CiU in the 1970s Jordi Pujol, his wife Marta Ferrusola, and most of their 7 children testified before the Barcelona-based judge investigating the case.

Mas: "The public tender system of the Catalan Government is flawless"

October 23, 2015 01:56 PM | ACN / Sara Prim

Current Catalan President, Artur Mas stated this Friday that "the public tender system of the Catalan Government is flawless. There are no mistakes nor possibilities to influence it in a partisan or personal way", regarding the accusations of bad practice in relation to assessing public contracts. Mas appeared before the Parliament to comment on the recent phase of the 'Petrum' anti-corruption operation, which investigates whether companies paid a 3% commission to the party foundation 'CatDem' in exchange for public contracts. "The CatDem did receive contributions from companies, it is legal, public and specified in many documents" stated President Mas "if we don't like the legal system, we must change it rather than criminalise it" and added that "other parties' foundations have also received commissions from these companies". Mas also slammed the Spanish Guardia Civil searches as "a show" that pursues "hurting rather than investigating".


The Guardia Civil searches CDC headquarters again and arrests party treasurer

October 21, 2015 11:32 AM | ACN / Sara Prim

Liberal party CDC headquarters have once again been searched by the Spanish Guardia Civil and the party's treasurer, Andreu Viloca, has been arrested. This Wednesday's actions are part of an ongoing investigation into alleged irregular financing of the party to find out whether companies paid a 3% commission to the CDC foundation in exchange for public contracts. In the first phase of the so-called operation 'Petrum', in July, Spanish police arrested Jordi Sumarroca, CEO of Teyco and son of one of the founders of CDC, Carles Sumarroca, and two other members of his family. The second phase already included a search of CDC headquarters. On Tuesday, the police also arrested 7 businessmen accused of having allegedly paid irregular commissions to the party in exchange for public contracts. Catalan President Artur Mas described these operations as "exaggerated" and assured that both CDC and the President himself are "big game targets" due to the pro-independence process in Catalonia.  

Catalonia's Supreme Court now indicts CiU MP Oriol Pujol for bribery

March 20, 2014 10:42 AM | ACN

The former Secretary General and 'number 2' of CDC, which is the Liberal Party and larger force within the two-party Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has been indicted for another alleged offence: bribery. Oriol Pujol had already been indicted a year ago for influence peddling regarding the network of Technical Vehicle Inspection garages (ITV). Back then, Pujol temporarily stepped down from his party responsibilities and as Chairman of the CiU group within the Catalan Parliament, but he continued as MP. The case is still under investigation by a judge from Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC), who has now added bribery to the list of alleged felonies. The judge stated that he believes Pujol might have earned €30,000 through his wife's company for a specific vote in Parliament. The CDC and the Spokesperson of the Catalan Government – run by the CiU – emphasised that they believe in Pujol's innocence and hope the judicial process will clarify the situation as soon as possible.