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A Spanish criminal court has taken the decision to prosecute Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of former Catalan presidents Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra, on suspicion that he is connected with a drug trafficking case. 

National Audience judge María Tardón, a former Madrid city councillor for Spain's Popular Party, considers that the lawyer committed an alleged crime of money laundering, involving the funds that came from a criminal organization dedicated to drug trafficking and led by José Ramón Prado Burgaño, also known as Sito Miñanco, for whom Boye acted as a lawyer. He is also being prosecuted for forgery.

Boye has repeatedly denied having any connection with the case, stating that one of the lawyers who has been prosecuted, Manuel Puente Saavedra, "falsely" incriminated him in a statement that allowed Puente Saavedra to be released in 2019.

Spanish "lawfare" and "the rattling of gowns"

Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, came out in defence of Boye, and attributed the decision of the National Audienc court to "lawfare", the practice of using legal systems to achieve a partisan goal. "Everyone knows perfectly well what all this is about. A shame, as a result of a certain sector of the judiciary sinking into in the mud of lawfare. A classic case. All my support, friend Gonzalo Boye," said Puigdemont. "Thank you, President, we continue" the lawyer replied.

President Quim Torra, removed from office by the Supreme Court in September for displaying a "Free political prisoners" banner, expressed a similar opinion, listing the lawyer among the 2,851 people in Catalonia subject to state retaliation as a result of the independence process. "When I say I would hang out the banner again, I say so to add [the mention of] the 2,851 people suffering retaliation in Catalonia, including my friend Gonzalo Boye. Strength and forward, dear Gonzalo," he said.

Spanish Congressional leader for Unidas Podemos and lawyer Jaume Asens also defended Boye, and denied that the judicial investigation had any credibility. And he classified the judge's action as "rattling of gowns", the judicial equivalent of sabre rattling. His tweet reads: "The systematic harassment of Boye is an intolerable attack on the practice of law. Another episode of #gownrattling. All my support, friend."

Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar also gave Boye all his support: "We who know you are with you". His tweet added: "So now the Spanish state goes after a brave activist lawyer who has humiliated & beaten them repeatedly- stay strong".  

In a decision notified on Friday, the judge accuses Boye of having received 10,000 euros during the alleged money laundering. "He was in charge of trying to recover the money by making contracts with which he intended to buy and sell bills of exchange," says a police report of the alleged incident.

In the same case, the magistrate also prosecuted another 45 people, including Burgaño himself, for alleged participation in two operations in which they sought to import almost four tons of cocaine into Spain, and for the creation of a criminal network to launder the money obtained from the drugs.