Spain: Terrorism accusation against Puigdemont – Politics

The criminal chamber of Spain’s highest court has decided to investigate ex-President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, on suspicion of terrorism. The judges are referring to an incident from 2019, in which a protest group called Tsunami Democràtic occupied Barcelona airport and temporarily paralyzed it. A French passenger died of a heart attack during the operation.

The court justified its decision on Thursday in a statement that was available to the SZ. In it, the judges involved explain Tribunal Supremowhy the turbulent events on October 14, 2019 at Barcelona airport should be viewed as a terrorist act.

“Serious crimes against freedom.”

With the action, Catalan separatists responded to the condemnation of fellow campaigners who pushed for the secession of Catalonia from Spain in 2017. Hundreds of demonstrators blocked the entrance to the airport with fake flight tickets and boarding passes. They occupied the tower and sometimes rioted on the grounds. Dozens of flights were canceled. The court emphasized that those involved wore balaclavas and hurled objects such as fire extinguishers and aluminum sheets at the security forces. The members of Tsunami Democràtic have committed, among other things, “serious crimes against freedom” and “physical integrity”, which is why this is about terrorism. There are also several indications that the ex-president of Catalonia, who fled to Belgium in 2017, and one of his companions were involved in organizing the protest and thus the acts.

The riots at Barcelona airport on October 14, 2019. Spain’s highest court accuses Puigdemont of being involved in organizing the protest.

(Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP)

What’s piquant about this court’s analysis is that Spain’s Attorney General’s Office came to a completely different conclusion a few weeks ago. Accordingly, there is “not enough evidence” to classify the airport occupation as a terrorist act. Many independent lawyers also see it this way. In addition, the decision of the Tribunal Supremo in a delicate moment: Puigdemont’s Junts party is still negotiating with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his socialist party PSOE about an amnesty law that would grant remission to those who carried out the 2017 attempted secession. After a first version of this law failed in parliament in January (Puigdemont had called for last-minute improvements), the deadline for the final text is next week. However, lawyers have doubts that such a law would cover the crime of terrorism.

The court’s move not only shakes Puigdemont’s plans to return to Spain. Because Pedro Sánchez needs the votes of junts in Congress for his government majority, a failure of the amnesty law would potentially be fatal for him.

The extent of the new corruption scandal cannot yet be predicted

Meanwhile, pressure on Sánchez and the Socialists is also coming from other quarters. A corruption scandal has been unfolding in Spain for a few days, the extent of which cannot yet be predicted. A shady employee of the former transport minister and Sánchez confidant José Luis Ábalos had personally enriched himself and others involved in the pandemic by purchasing masks. Ábalos, who is still a member of parliament, has now had to leave the Socialist group. Now it turns out that there may have been further mask deals that burdened high-ranking officials in parliament and the government.

In connection with the purchase of 1.4 million masks that did not meet the FFP2 standard and were never used, Francina Armengol, the ex-president of the Balearic Islands and current president of the Congress, is also criticized. The Balearic Islands government, under Armengol’s leadership, certified the proper delivery of the masks, even though it was already known that they were unsuitable, the online newspaper reports El Confidencial.

The conservative opposition party Partido Popular called for Armengol’s resignation this Friday. By purchasing defective masks, Armengol not only wasted state resources, but also put people’s lives in danger, the opposition criticizes. In the summer of 2023, at Sánchez’s instigation, she was elected President of the Parliament.

Some commentators in the Spanish media are already expressing doubts that Sánchez will survive the legislative period given the multiple crises. What also doesn’t help his position is that his party lost significantly in the regional elections in Galicia two weeks ago. It was the first vote in the new legislative period. On the other hand, Sánchez is known for his ability to bounce back from political setbacks.

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