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An inquiry, yes. But only investigating what went on under the People's Party government, and also, looking into other PP affairs beyond the Andorran affair of Operation Catalonia. Thus, Spain's Congress of Deputies will confine itself to the PP governments in its third commission of inquiry related to the so-called "sewers" of the Spanish state, of which the dirty war against the Catalan independence movement was but one area. The PSOE and Unidas Podemos have allied themselves with the Catalan and Basque pro-independence parties to push the proposition forward definitively and thus prevailed over the right-wing alliance of the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos, who opposed it. Of the 345 votes cast, 191 votes were cast for 'yes', 153 for 'no' and there was only one abstention. In this case, the focus will be on the so-called corruption audios uncovered by the newspaper El País, which have since they emerged allowed other areas of illicit political activity like Operation Kitchen to be re-examined. The parliamentary inquiry will also investigate the Andorran plot of Operation Catalonia, the actions taken by the so-called patriotic police under the interior ministry of Jorge Fernández Díaz to obtain secret financial information on pro-independence leaders from the Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA).

María Dolores de Cospedal y Jorge Fernández Díaz   Europa Press
María Dolores de Cospedal and Jorge Fernández Díaz return to the eye of the storm. / Photo: Europa Press

The PSOE has negotiated support in recent days and voted in favour of the text after those requesting the inquiry (ERC, Junts, the CUP, the PDeCAT, Bildu and the BNG) accepted an amendment, which delimits in time the investigation into the para-police plot - until the departure of Mariano Rajoy from the prime ministerial bench in 2018 - and which also broadens the subject of the commission. The pro-independence parties admitted to this newspaper that they had no choice but to accept this condition if they wanted the inquiry to go ahead. Thus, aside from the so-called Andorran section of Operation Catalunya, the parliamentary organ will probe the involvement of the PP in the corruption audios brought to light by El País. These audio documents revealed in 2022 demonstrate and certify, once again, the complicity between former minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, former general secretary of the PP, Dolores de Cospedal, and former police commissioner Jose Manuel Villarejo. The objective, therefore, will also be to apply renewed pressure with regard to Operation Kitchen, whose re-opening in the National Audience has become possible due to the insistence of the anticorruption prosecutor in requesting that Cospedal be charged for having tried to steal documents that compromised the PP from the former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas.

Pro-independence parties warn the PSOE

Despite the Socialist amendments, the Junts MP Josep Pagès affirmed that the PSOE "is not disconnected from the Spanish state's operations against Catalonia" and added: "We will not allow the commission to be instrumentalized just to generate bad news for the People's Party; the PSOE, sooner or later, will also have to respond to the operation against Catalonia", referring to the emergence of the Pegasus espionage cases. In relation to the pursuit of pro-independence activists, the ERC spokesperson, Pilar Balluguera, denounced that "reasons of state always override the fundamental rights of some citizens". The PP also reproached the Socialists for allowing the commission to go ahead, with their MP Luis Santamaria calling it "a desperate attempt to delegitimize the rival, a witch hunt, a summary trial to obtain electoral revenue". In reply, the Socialist spokesperson Felipe Sicilia defended widening the scope of the inquiry because, he says, "the PP had neither scruples nor limits in covering up its corruption and attacking its political opponents". On behalf of En Comú Podem, Jaume Asens has proposed to the PP "that it turn the page on corruption and refound the party".


The Andorran plot

The request for a commission was first made when it became known that an Andorran judge was investigating former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy for Operation Catalonia following a complaint about alleged pressure on the Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA) in order to obtain information from Catalan politicians during the independence process. The judge also indicted former PP cabinet ministers Jorge Fernández Díaz and Cristóbal Montoro.

Third time in the "state sewers"

This will be the third commission to find out what went on in Spain's so-called "state sewers" during the Rajoy era. In 2017, the Congress of Deputies had already censured Jorge Fernández Díaz "for the partisan use of the interior ministry" through Operation Catalonia. The most recent commission was held in 2021 when the chamber met to shed light on Operation Kitchen, the alleged parapolice plot to spy on the former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas and steal documents he possessed that were compromising for the party. Apart from these two occasions, Congress has also studied the irregular financing of the PP.