A judge at Spain’s National Court now wants to question former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont as part of a terrorism investigation into the activities of the Tsunami Democràtic protest group that was active in 2019.
Puigdemont (main image) has been in self-imposed exile in Belgium since late 2017, where he is currently an MEP. He is also sought by Spain’s Supreme Court for the illegal referendum held in October 2017. His party, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) is currently negotiating an ‘amnesty deal’ in exchange for supporting the possible investiture of Pedro Sánchez as Spanish prime minister. ALSO READ: Puigdemont keeps Sánchez waiting on investiture deal.
Spain’s National Court judge Manuel García-Castellón has offered Puigdemont the possibility of ‘voluntarily appearing’ before the court.
The judge has also summoned Marta Rovira, General Secretary of the Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party – who also fled Spain after the 2017 referendum. Sánchez already has the support of the ERC party regarding the amnesty-investiture negotiations. ALSO READ: PSOE preparing draft Catalan amnesty bill ahead of Sánchez investiture vote.
Ten other individuals have also been summoned by judge García-Castellón. The judge is investigating potential crimes of terrorism for actions carried out by the anonymous protest group.
Operating through instant messaging application Telegram, Tsunami Democràtic organised numerous protests during 2019, immediately following the sentencing of the nine Catalan leaders and activists of the 2017 referendum. Protests included the blockade of the AP-7 motorway near France and the attempt to shut down the Barcelona airport. ALSO READ (from 2019): What (or who) is the ‘Tsunami Democràtic’?
Last Friday, it was confirmed that a Spanish Guardia Civil police report used in the investigation cited Marta Rovira as the coordinator of the group.
According to Spanish media, the report also said the group’s activity was not the result of a spontaneous civic movement, but rather designed by pro-independence parties to put pressure on Spain.
Background to Catalan political conflict
Nine Catalan politicians and activists were jailed for between 9-13 years by the Spanish Supreme Court in October 2019, convicted of sedition and misuse of public funds for their role in the 2017 illegal referendum, with the verdicts causing widespread protests across Catalonia. In June 2021, the nine walked free from prison, following pardons granted by the government led by socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, but they remained banned from holding public office.
Late last year, Spain passed a controversial criminal code reform that downgraded the two charges used against them, abolishing sedition and replacing it with that of aggravated public disorder, and also reducing the penalty for misuse of public funds.
Misuse of public funds can carry prison time of between six months and up to five years if convicted, but disobedience only carries a disqualification from public office.
Carles Puigdemont led the government of Catalonia when it staged the referendum banned by Madrid and the courts, which was followed by a short-lived declaration of independence.