What the Ministry of the Interior defended last week as a return operation arranged with Morocco in which the “interests and rights” of migrant minors who arrived alone in Ceuta in the greatest recent migratory crisis would be respected “at all times”. Derived in an unprecedented clash with the National Court and the Prosecutor’s Office itself with Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the judge to whom Pedro Sánchez entrusted in June 2018 the management of the delicate portfolio that coordinates public security. The irregular return of dozens of minors alone to their country bypassing the Immigration Law is the latest chapter in a series of clashes with Justice that in recent months have placed the Interior Minister at the center of criticism from the opposition but also from his partners from United We Can, who assign him to the conservative sector of the judiciary.
The National Court gives the Interior five days to send “the file” of the return of the minors
The last episodes of attrition have been precipitated this week with the entrance on the scene of the National Court, precisely the court where Grande-Marlaska has his place as a magistrate. The Administrative Litigation Chamber gave the Secretary of State for Security five days on Thursday to send the file, including individualized reports and data, on the original order that launched the returns. A day before, this same Chamber had already argued that the returns of minors can only be carried out by the procedures “provided for and regulated in detail in Spanish legislation”, which calls into question the Interior’s justification that these returns were based on an agreement bilateral with Morocco on foreigners.
The document that Interior used as a legal basis for these repatriations had already been questioned by the Prosecutor’s Office, which in its reports in the proceedings opened in Ceuta since the weekend accused Interior of returning the minors in breach of “immigration legislation “and through a letter” without signature “. Also the juvenile ward prosecutor, Eduardo Esteban, asked the Interior for information on the transfers on Saturday. In addition, an email, advanced by El Confidencial and to which elDiario.es had access, proves that the Interior ordered the Government Delegation to return the minors from Ceuta when the department of Grande-Marlaska had defended before the National Court that it did not give any order, but had limited himself to “begging” the application of the pact.
And the other administration involved in the returns, the Government of Ceuta, has already warned that the return of almost fifty minors since last Friday was done in an exceptional way: without giving them a voice and without individualized reports on the situation. from each of them. That is to say: ignoring the Spanish Immigration Law and taking the agreement with Morocco as the only guide. It happens that both the Prosecutor’s Office, the court in Ceuta and the National Court have already stressed that the agreement with the Moroccan authorities cannot go beyond Spanish laws.
For this reason, the returns of minors have been paralyzed from Monday afternoon until this Friday by a Ceuta court, which decided to suspend them due to doubts about a procedure that, hours before, had been questioned by another judge of the autonomous city. This magistrate stopped the return of nine minors when she found that “nothing of what was ordered” in the immigration legislation had not been complied with in that case, which requires administrative procedures and an express resolution for each child in the procedures for the repatriation of minors. or adolescent.
This Tuesday, the minister tried to get out of the blow that meant the suspension of the returns of migrant minors for at least three days by ensuring that the order of the Ceuta court that decreed that stoppage is limited to a “legal-technical discussion” on the application of the migration treaty signed in 2007 between Spain and Morocco. On an interview at RNE, Grande-Marlaska assured that the assessment of each return is carried out by the Minors Area of Ceuta, which is “who exercises the guardianship” of the minors, although the legislation on immigration also requires a “prior” report from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The “illegal” dismissal of Pérez de los Cobos
Before this crisis, Grande-Marlaska had lived his lowest hours in the ministry after the sentence in the first instance that he considered “illegal” the dismissal of Diego Pérez de los Cobos as head of the Civil Guard Command in Madrid ordered by the Interior in May 2020 for not reporting the progress in the investigation into the 8M acts, a case finally archived. The ruling, dated March 31, condemned the ministry to re-enter the post and established that the “motivation” that led to his dismissal was “illegal” because Pérez de los Cobos fulfilled his obligation by not reporting these investigations. that affected the then government delegate in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, because the instructor in that case had imposed the duty of reserve on him.
The State Attorney appealed that sentence in April, insisting that the department headed by Grande-Marlaska removed the colonel from the freely appointed position he held as a result of a “loss of confidence” for not agreeing with his way of “proceeding.” and denying that this administrative authority was used “for a purpose other than that legally foreseen.” The appeal of the State Attorney’s Office sets out the reasons that, according to the Interior, led him to lose confidence in the colonel and opposes that, in the case of a position that requires maximum confidence, total freedom cannot be exercised from the executive power at the time of removal.
This matter was used by all the arc of the right to request the resignation of Grande-Marlaska, who offered several versions of the dismissal. After the dismissal was made public, the minister even said that it was responding to a broader restructuring within the Civil Guard, denying at all times that it was linked to a controversial report delivered to the judge that at that time he was investigating the Government delegate in Madrid. But days later the dismissal proposal was made public, which made it clear that the reason was “the loss of confidence (…) for not reporting the development of investigations and actions.” And then, Grande-Marlaska gave another version, linking the dismissal with a “leak” on a Civil Guard report sent to the magistrate.
The ‘kick in the door’
Just a few days before the decision of the National Court was known that gave the reason to the civil guard, the minister had faced another controversy for his justification of the entry of police officers into tourist flats without a court order through the so-called ‘kick in the door’. Specifically, Interior endorsed the entry of the Police without a court order into a home in the Salamanca district of Madrid where a party was being held and sanitary measures were not followed by COVID-19, claiming that it was a tourist apartment – a fact that he denied then the lease – and that the tenant had refused to open the door to avoid being fined, allegedly committing a crime of disobedience that would have empowered the agents to break down the door.
After the police intervention, about fifteen people who were inside were identified and nine of them were arrested for a crime of serious disobedience to authority, but that complaint was unsuccessful. The Madrid Court exonerated the tenants and affirmed that the agents incurred “an excess in the exercise of authority, violating the right to the inviolability of the home.” In fact, the six policemen who participated in the operation are being investigated for a possible crime of trespassing and are summoned to testify in a Madrid court on September 17.
On this occasion, the criticisms of the opposition to Grande-Marlaska were joined by conservative and progressive jurists, who, contrary to the Interior’s justification, insisted that the jurisprudence has repeatedly said that the constitutionally protected domicile is not only the habitual residence, but every place where the most intimate freedom and the private sphere develop. That is to say, also a tourist apartment. After this controversy, the then Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, closed ranks with Grande-Marlaska, but privately several ministers showed their perplexity at the position of the Minister of the Interior, who publicly endorsed what other cabinet colleagues undoubtedly considered a police excess.