The Minister of Economy, Antoni Castells arrived in court this morning to appear in front of the judges investigating the 'hotel Millet' case (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Judge Míriam de Rosa Palacio is to lead questioning on his involvement in the planning operation with the former management team of the Palau de la Musica, led by Felix Millet and Jordi Montull, to build a luxury hotel at the junction between C. Sant Pere Mes Alt and Amadeu Vives in the Ciutat Vella. Both Montull and Millet were jailed last week for this case, on charges of peddling for political favours and the misappropriation of funds. On March 8th, 2006, Castells signed an agreement with Millet permitting the use of annexed buildings of the Palau de la Música to be used for the proposed hotel. He allegedly did so without the mandatory legal reports. The Conselleria d'Economia have always argued that its action was correct and that those reports were not necessary. After the declaration of Castells, the judge is to call the CEO of Heritage, Immaculada Turu, who in the parliamentary inquiry commission defended the management of funds in the project and assured that the government will be compensated for the loss of heritage value. The commission is also scheduled to hear the Olivia Hotels promoter, Manuel Valderrama who's testimony is expected to throw light on the development project and the dealings with Millet and Montull. It is also expected to provide information on whether the suspects now imprisoned charged €900,000 in commission.
Independence consultations held yesterday across Cataluyna recorded their lowest participation figures yet (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Consultations on the independence on Catalunya, held in 48 municipalities yesterday recorded an average of 14.2 percent participation, 6.5 percent lower than the other previous attempts, although those voting for yes won with nearly 90 percent of the votes. A spokesman for the Coordinadora Nacional welcomed the day of consultation but acknowledged the difficulty of mobilising people in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. These regions, especially the Baix Llobregat are composed mostly of municipalities governed by the PSC party, which does not officially support the consultations. Uriel Bertran, one of the spokesmen and a member of the ERC was convinced that the referendums in the metropolitan area were always going to be a challenge but stressed that the process should be seen as a "positive step" because it normalises the possibility of voting for independence. Betram went on point out that the lower than average participation in the fourth round of consultations was actually higher than that recorded in the official referendum held last month, where just 12 percent of people voted. Another thing to note in the variances of numbers voting is that it varies substantially among some municipalities and others. The most populous city from the fourth wave of consultations, Mataró registered 23.7 percent whilst in Sant Feliu de Llobregat just 9 percent of those people eligible turned out.
The crisis is being blamed for an increase in the frequency and intensity of gender violence (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). This diagnosis is shared by many institutions and specialists working in the field against domestic violence. Already, across Spain there have been 32 deaths, seven more than in the same period than last year, with only five of these women reporting a problem in the house. Esther Álvarez, director of a govenment victim support centre said that unemployment "means that there are more tense situations and it affects relationship breakdown if the women is unemployed". The centre in which Álvarez works, in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, has already received the equivalent of 60 percent of all cases registered in 2009. Núria Fabra, research, innovation and training director at the centre insists that the growth of cases is directly related to the level on unemployment and stated that stress is fueled by economic, housing and unemployment problems. Another factor that adds to the problems is that immigrants without employment remain invisible in the eyes of social services.
Also in the news: 64,000 people in Cataluyna wait more than 90 days for a diagnosis (read full article in Castilian here, El Pais). Del Bosque reveals that Iniesta still has problems and will only play in their World Cup match tonight in an emergency (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).