One week ago, Spain’s special high court Audiencia Nacional decided to seize the bank accounts of Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of Catalan president Quim Torra, exiled president Carles Puigdemont and other pro-independence leaders in exile in Belgium. The decision by the Spanish High Court was a further blow to Boye and a new abuse of the justice system aimed at the lawyer.
Boye is no stranger to such repressive tactics, both as a defence lawyer and as a private individual. Ever since Boye agreed to represent Carles Puigdemont and the ministers in exile, the media has sought to make him out to be a criminal and the Spanish justice system has attempted to silence him. Nevertheless, despite the high price he has had to pay himself, Boye refuses to be intimidated: ‘Whoever lets themselves be defeated, will be defeated. We will carry on’, he wrote in response to the latest attack by the Spanish justice system.
Agradezco todas las muestras de apoyo y solidaridad. La Audiencia Nacional tienen una larga tradición de doctrinas con nombre y apellido… doblegaran al que se deje doblegar #Seguimos
— Gonzalo Boye (@boye_g) February 7, 2020
Arrest, torture and a fourteen-year prison sentence
It all began in 1992, when Boye was arrested and charged with aiding ETA in the kidnapping of the businessman Emiliano Revilla. Now, 27 years after the events, the Spanish High Court has frozen Boye’s bank account in an attempt to make him pay compensation to the victim. In an interview with VilaWeb, Boye declared he was tortured by the police during the first five days following his arrest. Neither ETA nor Revilla accused him of being involved in the kidnapping during the trial; no evidence was presented in court, but a friend’s testimony incriminated him. Boye ended up serving nearly eight years of a fourteen-year sentence.
Withdrawal of support and sued for defending Puigdemont
In September 2018, the Bar Association of Madrid (ICAM) —which Boye belonged to at the time— refused to support him in the face of the multiple attacks and threats he received at the start of the trial in Belgium against Judge Pablo Llarena. In an unprecedented decision, ICAM withdrew their support for Boye and decided to take Llarena’s side. In addition, far-right Vox and Movimiento 24DOS, an association of right-wing lawyers, filed a lawsuit against Boye before the Spanish High Court. The joint legal assault ultimately failed. Nevertheless, Judge Maria Tardón took the opportunity to attempt to discredit Boye by criticizing the court case against Llarena in Belgium. By employing such tactics, it is abundantly clear that Boye’s right to participate in a fair trial was compromised.
Called to testify before the Spanish High Court
On 21 October 2019, the Spanish police, acting on a court order, spent 15 hours searching Boye’s home and private office. The operation came a week before Puigdemont’s first appearance before a Belgian court after Judge Llarena issued a third European Arrest Warrant. Judge Tardón called Boye to testify in response to charges of money laundering and crimes against public health, as the Spanish legal system calls crimes involving illegal drugs. The aim was to connect Boye with the activities of a former client, the drug dealer Sito Miñanco. The police officers downloaded all of Boye’s emails and copied the contents of his mobile phone. After testifying, Boye was released without any further measures being taken.
Bank accounts seized
The most recent abuse came on Thursday, when the Spanish High Court ordered Boye’s bank accounts to be seized, arguing that he ought to pay compensation to Revilla. In some thirty cases of a similar nature, however, the Spanish High Court ruled that the statute of limitations had already expired. In this instance, however, the court has decided to apply a new doctrine, an arbitrary application of the law which Boye has already strongly criticised and announced he will appeal against. Judge Ramón Sáez Valcárcel cast a private vote, arguing —like Boye— that the statute of limitations has expired, a position which is also shared by the Public Prosecutor.
Break–in at Boye’s office
On 17 January this year, unknown intruders broke into Boye’s office, ransacking it in the process. Bizarrely, almost nothing was stolen. Boye reported it to the Spanish police, but so far, they have failed to turn up any leads or apprehend the perpetrators of this unusual robbery. The intruders stole no cash, but made off with a computer server.