As the monarchy becomes subject to increased criticisim in Spain, King Juan Carlos I defends his role in Spanish democracy.
King Juan Carlos I used his speech at the opening of the academic year at the University of Oviedo to defend the monarchy saying that “parliamentary monarchy that supports the constitution has provided the country with the longest period of stability and prosperity in Spanish history”.
His words are particularly poignant as two Spanish citizens, Jaume Roura Carellas and Enric Stern, have been charged with ‘seriously insulting the monarchy’ by Santiago Pedraz, a Spanish High Court judge, following their participation in a protest against the monarchy on 13th September in Gerona. This protest was timed to take place just before a planned official visit by the monarchy to the city. The two are accused of taking part in an act in which a photos of the Spanish king and queen were burned as part of the demonstration. Insulting the monarchy is a crime according to the Spanish constitution.
The judge, Grande-Marlaska has also summoned nine other people to court next Thursday for their part in a second demonstration in support of the first in which photos were also burnt.
A further demonstration took place in Manresa, Barcelona, last Saturday supporting those who have been charged over the last few days for burning photos of the Spanish king and queen. In this demonstration around 60 people burnt small photos of the king and queen as a way of showing solidarity with those accused of the same crime.
The demonstration last Saturday passed off peacefully without incidents or arrests. According to the Catalan police it didn’t last very long and the demonstrators who were carrying placards against the monarchy with pro-Catalan independence slogans dispersed as soon as it was over.
Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska has ordered the photographer who took photos of demonstrators burning photos of the monarchy in the original demonstration in Gerona to hand over his film to the courts. Although the photographer, Jordi Ribot, refused at first saying ‘he didn’t work for the police’, he consented to the judge’s request when he was called to appear in court.
Yesterday the Catalan police removed an explosive artefact which had been placed outside the headquarters of the ICV party in Barcelona. This incident is believed to be connected to the anti-monarchy protests currently taking place in Catalonia because Joan Saura who is a member of ICV is the Interior Minister for Catalonia and is in charge of the Catalan Police. So far no one has come forward to claim responsibility.