By Peter H. Salus
You may have fixed your eyes on that green train in Peking, but you don’t want to forget what’s going on in Malta, where a slightly rusty front-load washing machine stood in front of the Pilatus private bank in Valletta, Malta, last week with a sign dedicating the “monument of money laundering” to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s opening of the bank in January 2014.
The bank’s 38-year-old Iranian director, Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, has been indicted in Manhattan, where he resides, for allegedly evading American sanctions against Iran by funneling around $115 million of Iranian rials in shady business dealings in Venezuela and Malta through the Pilatus bank. Of which the President’s wife is an investor.
Or, perhaps, you missed the indictments of over a dozen Catalonian politicians, former politicians, and others disliked by the Spanish regime, which seems to own an autographed copy of Franco’s playbook.
For example, a pro-independence Catalan politician who is being sought by the Spanish government handed herself in to Scottish police on 28 March. Prof Clara Ponsati voluntarily attended St Leonard’s police station in Edinburgh, accompanied by her lawyer Aamer Anwar. As they arrived at the police station, Mr Anwar said Prof Ponsati views the charges – which could attract a jail term of up to 30 years – as “political persecution”.
Prof Ponsati has been teaching at St. Andrews for about two years. Inter alia, she (and others) are accused of theft of millions of Euros – the total estimated to have been spent on holding last year’s referendum.
The previous day, protests broke out across Catalonia after former leader Carles Puigdemont was taken into custody in Germany. At least 89 people were injured in clashes with police and four arrests were made.
Mr Puigdemont, who is wanted in Spain for sedition and rebellion, was detained by German police acting on a European arrest warrant. He appeared before a German judge on Monday and was remanded in custody.
Prosecutor Georg-Friedrich Guentge said Mr Puigdemont “appeared calm and composed”.
Quoting Captain Louis Renault [Claude Rains] in “Casablanca,” a spokesperson for the Spanish Supreme Court stated that it was unclear whether the Catalans would be executed or shot while trying to escape.