Spanish police forged and manipulated documents to justify the 28 months of pre-trial detention for Vladimir Kokorev, his wife and their son. According to a report of a renowned Spanish IT expert, Juan Martos Luque, the supposedly incriminating documents against the entrepreneur of Russian-Jewish origins, were created several months after his arrest, by person or persons identified as DGP – Direccion General de Policia – which coincide with official usernames of computers belonging to Spanish Police Department.
Vladimir Kokorev, his wife and their son were extradited from Panama to Canary Islands (Spain) in October 2015, where, on orders of Spanish judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano, they were kept in prison, with no specific charges, indictment, nor date for the trial, under the pretext of “on-going” and “secret” investigations.
The secrecy of investigation (forbidden under the regulations of European Community and Human Rights Treaties, as well by Spanish own laws, ignored by Judge Serrano) was lifted 18 months later, in February 2017, in large part due to the pressure from the European Parliament.
However, even after the secrecy was lifted, no specific evidence of any wrongdoing was to be found in the case files. The prosecution, represented by Luis Del Rio Montesdeoca and the judge made opaque references to supposedly incriminating evidence contained in a USB drive, allegedly provided to the police by Ismael Gerli, a former Panamanian attorney of Kokorev, currently indicted in his own country on various counts of documentary forgery. Gerli stated that the USB drive supposedly belonged to Igor Kokorev, Vladimir Kokorev’s son, who had “left” the device in Gerli’s office “by mistake”.
Judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano had repeatedly denied the Kokorev’s attorneys the right to access the copy of this USB device, until in September 2017 her decisions was overruled by the High Court of Canary Islands. Yet, even after the police unit in charge of investigation was compelled to produce a copy of the supposedly incriminating USB, it took them no less than 4 months to deliver it to Kokorev’s defense, and only after the investigators were warned of being in contempt of the courts.
The analysis of the device, carried out by an independent IT expert and which CV includes frequent collaborations with Spanish police and security departments, reveals that the majority of the documents contained in the USB were created or manipulated after October 2015, that is, after the device was delivered by Gerli to the police unit in charge of investigation, and after Vladimir Kokorev and his family were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention. The analysis shows that at least 192 files contained on the device were manipulated and at least 3 files were created by a person with username identified as IT department of Spanish police department.
Furthermore, the IT expertise recovered from the same USB – which ownership the prosecutor and the judge have previously attributed to Igor Kokorev - a deleted draft of Gerli’s deposition before Spanish police, substantially different from the official deposition contained in the case file.
The IT expert also concludes that no clone copy of the USB was made prior to its delivery to Kokorev’s attorneys, that is, that contrary to existing regulations on the analysis of IT evidence and common sense, the Spanish police was carrying out its “analysis” of the USB on the original device instead of making a clone copy, thus further contaminating the evidence and rendering it impossible to determine the full extent of manipulations.
Vladimir Kokorev’s wife and son were liberated from Spanish prison on orders of High Court of Canary Islands in October 2017, after having spent 2 years in pre-trial detention. Kokorev himself was freed, on the request of High Court, in February 2018, having spent 28 months in jail. The members of Kokorev family have yet to be formally indicted for any wrongdoing. However, in a quizzical court ruling, they are forbidden from leaving the island of Gran Canaria on Canary Islands, until the supposed “investigation” against them runs its course. The so-called Kokorev Case has attracted a lot of attention and formal protests from European Community for its numerous alleged violations of Human Rights and due procedure, and apparent political motives behind the persecution against the Russian-Jewish family.
Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro
Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.
President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”
The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi.
European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.
Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.
European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case
The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.
In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.
The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.
The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.
Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.
For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.
The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.
Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.
A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.
Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation
On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.
At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.
The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.
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