Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mallorca's Moments Of Legal Tourism: Nóos Trial

Mallorca has had its several months of fame. Perhaps the tourism ministry should consider a new "tourist product" in its endless search for de-saturating the beaches of mono-cultural, sun-seeking northern European holidaymakers. They could call it legal tourism. Or Nóos tourism. A route (the ministry loves a route) for the greatest legal show on the earth of Mallorca. But who would really want to be shown around what - for purposes of the trial - was an adapted room in an office block on an uncharming industrial estate located ominously closely to the prison?

No, there's fame and then there's celebrity. It was Mallorca's fortune (or perhaps misfortune) to provide the location for Nóos and for global media hunger. They were attracted not by Urdangarin or Matas but by the princess. Has the ministry set a figure yet on how much the media spent in terms of accommodation, of daily spend per journalist/cameraman, of the knock-on benefit for bars and restaurants and shops? Has there been, will there be a promotional effort to attract visitors to the place where justice was enacted and seen to have been enacted in a confirmation of the soundness of the Spanish legal system? A royal on trial. And it was right here. Or right there on the otherwise non-descript Son Rossinyol estate. When (if) another royal is subjected to the whims of a peculiar organisation such as Manos Limpias, then they now have a far better option. Shift the trial from the Via Alemanya to the Palacio de Congresos - a palace fit for a royal trial.

Has the legal system been a winner or has it been a loser? Where the princess is concerned, it was both. It was a winner in that she was acquitted and others, such as her husband, were not. It lost because it allowed for a prosecution that should never have been brought and not only against the princess.

Juan Pedro Yllanes, who would have headed the judges' panel had he not opted to become a Congress deputy for Podemos, observed that the outcome - the verdicts and sentencing - could have been foreseen. He, therefore and without obviously having the full evidence to consult, was able to predict an acquittal. Mostly anyone else could have as well.

It was the damning conclusions of the judges directed at the Manos Limpias prosecution of the princess and of the wife of Diego Torres that held up the right to a private action under the legal system to ridicule. The judges were particularly condemnatory of the latter stages of the trial. Manos Limpias, by then under the scrutiny of the allegations raining down on it of extortion - pay up and prosecutions will be dropped - showed "minimum prudence" which made "abusive" its right to pursue its actions. Its case was "devoid of consistency". Manos Limpias wanted its several months of fame. It got it, but it was twisted into notoriety by its own warped sense of entitlement.

Perhaps, however, the legal system was not a loser in enabling the princess' prosecution to proceed. Where, after all, was the fabric for Manos Limpias woven? Not solely within its factory for the allegations that have since been levelled at it. Judge Castro was the weaver. Held up as a people's hero in his tireless targeting of the corrupt, his reputation has been diminished. The anti-corruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach, who disagreed with Castro from the outset, has referred to a regrettable loss of time - four years of instruction, which ultimately led nowhere. He has also regretted the fact that his own independence was questioned. That he, by not pursuing a state prosecution, was somehow got at.

There will be many who will believe that the princess got off scot-free. Surely, they will think, she must have been party to the design of the web of businesses through which public funds were diverted? Why surely? She said repeatedly in refusing to answer Manos Limpias' lawyer and responding only to her lawyer that she trusted her husband. The very model of the modern royal marriage. A one-time golden couple. She knew her place. And that was to let Iñaki take care of business. She never questioned it. Or the basis for the spending she was able to indulge in. She has been fined over quarter of a million euros for having been an unquestioning wife.

The legal system is a winner, though, in having snared Iñaki and Torres, the latter the recipient of the stiffer sentence. Iñaki, clearly not an unclever man, was nevertheless not as clever as Torres. Or as clever as Torres thought he was. Perhaps there should be some sympathy for Iñaki, who - as Horrach has noted - did not participate in the creation of the structure for money laundering. The sympathy evaporates because he knew full well what was going on. Unlike his wife.

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