Catalan Separatist Trial
As 12 Catalan separatist leaders prepare to go on trial in Madrid tomorrow .. Spain has been forced to defend the independence and impartiality of its courts.
Catalan separatists have dismissed the high-profile trial as a “farce” whose outcome is already pre-determined.
Not so, says the government, which has published a file to show Spain’s justice system is just as fair as its European counterparts, citing rankings by the European Commission, the European Court of Human Rights and Transparency International.
Supreme Court President Carlos Lesmes points out that if the justice system really was not independent, the king’s brother-in-law would not be in jail for corruption, nor would a court ruling have sparked a no-confidence motion that brought down the conservative government in June.
The government has also had to defend itself from accusations that it put pressure on judges during the criminal investigation phase.
Public prosecutors accuse nine of the 12 of rebellion .. a key charge which has divided legal experts.
But the state attorney decided in November to only accuse them of the lesser crime of sedition.
This has led conservative opposition parties, to accuse the government of “unacceptable interference” in the case.
They suspect the move was part of a bid by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s minority government to win the much-needed support in parliament of Catalan separatist parties for its 2019 budget.

Human Trafficking
THIRTEEN suspected members of a human trafficking network have been arrested and two Colombian women freed from a house in San Sebastian.
The detainees are also accused of selling cocaine to ‘customers’ forcing the women to act as dealers.
The Interior Ministry believes the leaders of the criminal group have laundered around €6 million since 2014, through a network of fictitious companies and bank accounts abroad.
It claims the organisation had members in Spain and Colombia, where the profits of the business were directed.
A judicial order has been issued for the closure of the San Sebastian property while investigations continue ‘to locate other possible members of the criminal organisation’.

New Staff
The government approved on Friday a decree to hire 1,735 new public workers to deal with the consequences of Brexit, particularly in the areas of border and customs control.
The government wants the majority of these workers to be hired before March 29 regardless of whether or not Britain reaches an agreement with the bloc on leaving the European Union.
Spain aims to have more workers in airports and ports as well as to strengthen controls on imports and exports, and its assistance to the estimated 300,000 Britons living here.

Police were called after a 29-year-old woman was found dead in a house on the outskirts of Planes.
Her throat had been cut and sources close to the case said that Police “were not ruling out any theories.”
the house is only 100 metres away from the centre of neighbouring Benimarfull.
The dead woman, who was not Spanish, was registered on the Barcelona padron.