A Madrid court has reversed an earlier position and paralyzed Andorra's letters rogatory demand against Mariano Rajoy in the case of the "dirty war" by Spanish authorities known as Operation Catalonia, after having endorsed the demand a month ago. In a decision announced this Thursday, the judges of the second section of the Madrid Audience ruled on the appeals presented by both former Spanish prime minister Rajoy and the former finance minister in his government, Cristóbal Montoro, and ordered the competent court to consider their claims in the case which was being heard in Madrid investigative court number 32. It also ordered the admittance for hearing of their appeals, in which both requested the refusal of Andorra's letters rogatory, the formal legal device under which a country can request legal assistance, such as testimony in an investigation, from a foreign citizen.
The Madrid Audience's decision takes the contrary line to the ruling it made in October, when the judges considered that the arguments of the appellants were valid and the appeal should have been accepted, but that it could not uphold their appeal because the judge had already sent the response to the Andorran authorities. That is to say, that the position of both PP politicians had lost its foundation since the letters rogatory had already been returned to Andorra - however, this had not happened when the previous resolution was signed. With the knowledge of these facts, and with the favourable opinion by the Prosecutor's Office, the court's second section declared the nullity of the first proceedings in defence of the Spanish politicians' right to judicial protection and thus sent the case back to its earlier stage.
Andorra's letters rogatory against Rajoy
The judicial procedure is linked to events within Operation Catalonia, the Spanish state's campaign to undermine the Catalan independence movement via illegal means. Specifically, it is the result of the complaint filed by the Andorran Human Rights Institute and the former president of Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA) against Rajoy and other leaders of the PP, to investigate the alleged pressure placed on the BPA to obtain information on Catalan politicians during the independence process. Thus, the Pyrenean microstate's justice system is investigating them for alleged offences of coercion, threats, blackmail, extortion, coercion against constitutional bodies and creation of a false document, all in relation with attempts to obtain secret bank account information "via illegal means" on Catalan presidents Jordi Pujol and Artur Mas and former vice-president Oriol Junqueras.
The defence lawyers of Rajoy, Montoro and the former interior minister Jorge Fernández Díaz alleged that their rights were violated because Madrid investigating court No 32 did not carry out the "prior check of legality in accordance with national and conventional legislation in matters of international cooperation", when it first gave the go-ahead to the letters rogatory.