The Voloh case took an international leap last Friday, when the American newspaper ‘The New York Times’ unveiled the trips to Russia of the director of Carles Puigdemont’s office, Josep Lluís Alay, in 2019, to promote the independence of Catalonia. The investigation into Alay that is being followed in Barcelona has revealed, in addition to the Russian contacts of Puigdemont’s collaborator, the different interpretations of Judge Joaquín Aguirre and the anti-corruption prosecutor Fernando Maldonado. It is not the first time that the prosecutor and judge have disagreed on the macrocause.
The piece that affects Alay in the court of instruction 1 of Barcelona consists, on the one hand, of a report of the Civil Guard of a hundred pages on the telephone number of the director of the Puigdemont office, intervened in October 2020 by order of the judge during his detention. On the other hand, the different writings and resolutions of the prosecutor and the judge are included, the only ones who until now knew about the investigations due to their secret nature.
As in the rest of the Voloh case, in the piece dedicated to Alay business and politics intersect. In a ruling last July, Judge Aguirre focused the investigations on an oil purchase made in July 2020 by a Chinese company from a Russian company in which the businessman Aleksander Dmitrenko allegedly participated and of which he spoke with Alay. The judge is based on the intercepted messages from Alay, in which Dmitrenko congratulates “all of us” and celebrates having received $ 295,000 in guarantee for the operation as a “first big step done”.
The judge believes that the oil sale and purchase operation “is similar to another carried out by Russia in favor of a company linked to the Italian politician Matteo Salvini”, as revealed in a report by the British channel BBC. The judge adds that the operation “offers indications of being no more than a screen to hide some type of irregular operation”, such as “the illegal financing of a political party.”
The prosecutor, on the other hand, considers that the instructor goes too far in his investigation hypothesis and therefore has asked the Barcelona Court to archive the separate piece. According to the prosecutor, deducing criminal conduct from the messages between Alay and Dmitrenko “exceeds the investigative powers that correspond to any authority.” The prosecutor also criticizes the “lack of logical motivation for the investigation” and its “prospective nature”. “It does not indicate which are the possible crimes committed or the criminally relevant behaviors,” he adds.
Dmitrenko, a Russian investor based in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona), denies being an agent of the Russian intelligence services, although the Government denied him Spanish nationality precisely because of the suspicion of his ties to the former KGB. In addition to his relationship with Alay, last year the businessman managed to get the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, led then by the now Junts deputy Joan Canadell, to appoint him ambassador in Moscow. The fact that Canadell announced it in an interview disappointed Alay, who preferred that the appointment not be made public, as confirmed by the messages intercepted by the Civil Guard.
According to the Civil Guard in its report, Artem Lukoyanov, the adopted son of Vladislav Surkov, a politician and businessman who was a personal advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, could also have participated in the oil business.
On a political level, the Government has returned to silence on Tuesday about Alay’s trips to Russia, which had not been included in the report that each year the office of the former president delivers to the Parliament of Catalonia. “Going to Russia to talk about how to create a state of its own, I do not think it is a crime,” Alay sentenced on Friday in statements to TV3.
In any case, the piece on Alay shows that contacts with Russian officials by those closest to Puigdemont continued in 2019, after the sovereignist fall of 2017 and has allowed the judge to add evidence beyond the reference to the “10,000 soldiers Russians “from the former head of international relations at Convergència, Víctor Terradellas, to whom the former president did not reply to the messages. The Kremlin on Tuesday denied being involved in the independence process and said it was unaware of Alay’s contacts with Russian officials in Moscow.
Tsunami and the JxCat deputy
The differences between the investigating judge and the anticorruption prosecutor are not new in Voloh, the macro-cause that investigates from the Russian plot of the procés to the corruption of some of its shadow leaders, through the financing of Puigdemont in Belgium, and that It started from a cause of irregular subsidies from the Barcelona Provincial Council. It was Judge Aguirre who has led the investigations, in the face of the general passivity of the prosecutor, who did not appear to be questioned by former CDC politician David Madí and has opposed two other key decisions of the instructor.
In parallel to the Russian plot, Judge Aguirre decided before the summer to send the part of the case referring to the Tsunami Democràtic to the National Court, as requested by the special court judge José Manuel García Castellón. Prosecutor Maldonado has asked the Barcelona Court to annul this dispatch, as one of the defenses in the case had requested, since, according to the representative of the Public Ministry, Aguirre’s order “lacks the slightest factual motivation. and legal “.
Until the judge gives more details of the crimes and behaviors that he investigates and better justifies the jurisdiction of the National Court, the prosecutor understands that the case must remain in Barcelona. All this with harsh reproaches towards the judge, whom the prosecutor accuses of violating the right to effective judicial protection of those investigated and causing them “defenselessness.”
It will be the Audiencia of Barcelona who will settle the two controversies between judge and prosecutor. The first was resolved in favor of the Public Ministry by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which agreed with the prosecutor by rejecting Judge Aguirre’s request to accuse the deputy of Junts per Catalunya Francesc de Dalmases in the piece on subsidies of the Barcelona Provincial Council. Anti-corruption had asked the judges of the TSJC to return to Magistrate Aguirre the rationale on De Dalmases because, in the opinion of the prosecutor, the instructor “did not expose either the subsidies or the persons responsible for the alleged fraud.”