European Parliament calls for an independent commission to investigate the abuse of judicial power in Canary Islands
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
A press conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 November discussed the Kokorev case and abuse of judicial power in Canary Islands
Canary Islands, known as a tourist destination, are now on the spotlight of European Parliament for alleged judicial abuse and repeated violation of human rights. The islands, despite their geographic proximity to West Coast of Africa, are a province of Spain, and – at least nominally – governed by Spanish and European regulations in all respects, including the right to a due process and human rights.
The reality, as exposed in several conferences of prominent Members of European Parliament, could be very different.
Case in point, the family of Spanish entrepreneur of Russian origins, Vladimir Kokorev. Mr. Kokorev, together with his wife and son, were arrested on the orders of Canary judge, Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano, in September 2015. They remained in “preventive” prison, with no formal charges, and for a long period of time with no knowledge of any evidence against them, for over 26 months. Mr. Kokorev’s wife and son were finally released in October 2017 – over two years later – still with no charges presented against them. Mr. Kokorev remains in prison – which the judge De Vega Serrano has extended for another two years. There is not as much as a tentative date for a trial, nor any formal accusation.
“No charges has been filed against Mr. Kokorev since his arrest in 2015. Which terms of pre-trial investigation are considered reasonable on Canary Islands? Two years? Five years? Ten years? This is an absurd situation and it gives grounds to question the existence of any real and motivated charges against him,” stated MEP Fulvio Martusciello during the press conference in Strasbourg on 15 November.
The absurdity of Mr. Kokorev predicament is pondered by the fact that the Judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano has repeatedly denied any access to supposedly incriminating evidence against Mr. Kokorev to everyone, with the exception of the prosecutor, Luis del Rio Montesdeoca and the local police unit in charge of investigation. Mr. Kokorev’s attorneys denounce that even as of today, the court have failed to provide the copies of electronic devices belonging to Kokorev that were seized by the police, while making references to the information contained in those devices to justify Mr. Kokorev’s imprisonment.
In the meantime, the high courts of Las Palmas do little to nothing to reprimand De Vega’s behavior, and have for most part ignored dozens of appeals presented by Kokorev’s attorneys. As exposed during the recent press-conference, the self-serving attitude and protectionism between judges, prosecutors and high court magistrates is common in the judicial and police structures of Canary Islands. The very own Spanish press is frequently critical of Las Palmas justice, where decisions affecting people’s lives are made in “hallways, cafeterias and parking lots of the courts”, based on personal relations between public servants, and motivated by career ambitions.
The abuse of pre-trial detention is a frequent staple of Canary “justice”, as well as the public auctioning of property belonging to the accused before the actual trial.
MEP Aldo Pariciello said “I could not believe such outrageous things were possible in a European country of today until I got familiarized with the Kokorev case. Failures of justice or investigation do happen sometimes but the things occurring on the Canary Islands cannot be called a failure. There is a deliberate breach of basic rights of a European citizen to whom European laws guarantee the fastest possible and unbiased trial and a right to fair justice. In Kokorev’s case, I can see neither trial nor any prospects for legal proceedings. All I see is a senior ill man who has been tortured for two years”.
The MEPs Fulvio Martusciello, Barbara Matera, Aldo Pariciello and Heinz Becker have agreed to monitor closely and periodically the evolution of “Kokorev case”, and signed a joint letter addressed to the President of Spanish Judicial Supervising Commission, Mr. Carlos Lesmes Serrano, Spanish Minister of Justice, Mr. Rafael Catala Polo and Mr. Emilio Moya Valdes, the Chairman of Las Palmas Court of Appeal, in which they expressed their “bewilderment at Spain’s treatment of Kokorev” and called upon Spain’s judicial authorities to end this “horrifying human rights violation”.
Furthermore, the concerned MEPs have called to create a special investigative commission based in Strasbourg with the objective not only to “elucidate the responsibility of certain Spanish public servants in the systemic abuses that have and, evidently, still are taking place in the so-called Kokorev Case,” but also to determine whether “such abuses constitute an isolate aberrant incident, or by the contrary, the abuse of police and judicial power in the province of Canary Islands is a more common occurrence that we would like to believe.”
Independent date seems to suggest that there are currently hundreds of provisionally detained persons in the prisons of Las Palmas.