Artucle published by Catalan News Agency, 15th April 2016
Photo: The Spanish Police seraching at Manos Limpias’ headquarters, in Madrid (by ACN)
Barcelona (CNA).- The leader of Spanish extreme right organisation Manos Limpias, Miguel Bernard, was arrested this Friday by the Spanish Police’s division for Economic and Fiscal crimes (UDEF).Bernard, who used to be Secretary General of the extreme right party Fuerza Nueva and was close to Franco regime member Blas Piñar, has been accused of having extorted several banks and companies, asking them for money in exchange for not promoting legal actions against them. Luis Pineda, the president of the Association of Banking Users, Ausbanc, has also been arrested for the same crime and the investigation is still ongoing. Manos Limpias is a trade union of public employees, which has promoted several investigations and judicial procedures concerning different public figures and renowned companies in Spain. In 2014 theypresented a criminal complaint against former Catalan President Artur Mas for charges of rebellion and sedition and also sued pro-independence grassroots organisation Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and its former President, Carme Forcadell.
Besides Bernard and Pineda, 9 other people have been arrested so far by order of judge Santiago Pedraz, from Court of Instruction number 1 of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional. They were accused of several crimes, including coercion, extortion and criminal organisation.
Catalan Government Spokeswoman Neus Munté called for the investigation to go “until the end” and pointed to Manos Limpias as one of the main “promoters” of the “judicial campaign against the debating of ideas”.
Manos Limpias’ crusade against Catalonia’s push for independence
In February 2014, Manos Limpias fuelled a judicial campaign against Catalonia’s auto-determination right and its push for independence. First, the extreme right organisation presented a criminal complaint against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, for “sedition”, “rebellion”, “perverting the course of justice” and “disobeying judicial authority”. According to the plaintiffs, the Catalan President used all means available to achieve Catalonia’s independence, including the creation of new ‘state-structures’, disobeying the Constitutional Court and giving statements that point towards holding a consultation vote and violating the Spanish Constitution. In the complaint, Manos Limpias called for Mas to be interrogated as a suspect, while several Catalan politicians would be witnesses. The organisation also requested an examination of the Catalan budget since 2010 and several decrees and agreements approved by the Government.
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