Spain’s top court opens terrorism probe into Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

Spain’s top court opens terrorism probe into Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

Case dates back to street protests in 2019

By Alyssa McMurtry

OVIEDO, Spain (AA) - The Spanish Supreme Court said on Thursday that it will open a terrorism probe into the former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Although Puigdemont fled Spain in 2017 after a botched independence attempt, the court states that there are several indications that he held “the absolute leadership” and was the intellectual author behind riots in 2019.

The riots and protests in question were organized by the secretive organization Tsunami Democratic after the Spanish justice system sentenced several high-profile Catalan leaders to dozens of years behind bars.

Although no one was directly killed in the protests and riots, the court equates Tsunami Democratic with “street terrorism.” In the court statement, it said the actions of the group could be considered terrorism due to its actions “against freedom” that were carried out to seriously disturb public peace.

The court is particularly zooming in on one protest at the Barcelona Airport, in which thousands of protestors tried to block the entrance of the key piece of infrastructure.

Puigdemont, currently a member of the European Parliament living in Belgium, joked on Twitter about the Spanish media and judicial system. Earlier in the day, the newspaper El Confidencial ran a story saying he was given a $7,000 watch by a company related to Tsunami Democratic.

“The same day they accuse me of having received the gift of a Rolex, they charge me as a terrorist,” he posted on X. “The Spanish judicial matrix has adopted the maxim of bad journalism: don't let reality get in the way of a good story.”

This new investigation illustrates how complicated the political situation in Spain has become.

First of all, the Catalan leaders sentenced to dozens of years behind bars were pardoned years later by the Socialist-led government.

Now, Pedro Sanchez’s progressive coalition government has promised to grant amnesty to all those still facing non-violent charges related to the Catalan independence movement, which has largely been pacific.

Puigdemont is expected to be the most high-profile beneficiary of the amnesty bill. However, a terrorism investigation complicates matters by blurring the lines between what was violent.

While Puigdemont was not in Spain at the time, the Supreme Court said he offered his “charismatic support” to the disruptive protesters. “Far from withdrawing support, he encouraged the continuation of the violent actions that took place,” the court stated.

Spain’s Supreme Court is also investigating Ruben Wagensberg, a Catalan MP for the ERC party, on the same charges.

Wagensberg has also left Spain and is currently living in Switzerland.

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