16th July 2024
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Spain’s Supreme Court drops Puigdemont ‘terrorism’ probe due to ‘procedural error’

Spanish Supreme Court judge Susana Polo has closed a ‘terrorism’ investigation into the Catalan pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in 2017 to avoid prosecution over that year’s failed independence bid.

The move removes another legal obstacle blocking the return of the controversial Catalan politician who is hoping to benefit from a new amnesty law for those wanted over the botched secession.

In a statement, the court said the case was closed after Spain’s National Court, on Monday, dismissed part of the case due to a procedural error, due to an investigating judge failing to meet a deadline for extending the probe. The decision can be appealed.

Puigdemont had hoped to benefit from the new amnesty law passed by the Spanish Congress at the end of May in a bid to draw a line under years of efforts to prosecute those involved in the failed independence bid that triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

Since fleeing in 2017, Puigdemont has been wanted by the Spanish justice system on a string of charges, including disobedience and misuse of public funds.

Although the disobedience charge has been dropped, the Supreme Court said this week that the amnesty law would not cover the misuse of public funds charge because of two exceptions: funds used for personal gain and EU money. ALSO READ: Supreme Court refuses amnesty for Puigdemont over misuse of public funds.

Back in February, the court announced a new probe into Puigdemont for ‘terrorism offences’ over a string of mass street protests in 2019 following the conviction of 13 pro-independence leaders who had been arrested and tried over the independence bid. ALSO READ: Judges extend probes into Puigdemont’s alleged ‘Kremlin ties’ and ‘Tsunami terrorism’.

Organised by a secretive pro-independence group called Tsunami Democràtic, the protests involved a mass action in which thousands of activists blocked access to Barcelona airport for several hours.

At the time, the investigating judge said he believed Puigdemont and other pro-independence leaders were the guiding hands behind the movement and its ‘street terrorism’.

Puigdemont is also wanted on charges of high treason, another offence that does not fall within the scope of the amnesty law.

Blocking the amnesty for Puigdemont could complicate the life of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez who promoted the measure in exchange for the Catalan pro-independence parties’ parliamentary support to secure a new term in office. ALSO READ: The PSOE and Junts sign a pact that will guarantee investiture of Pedro Sánchez.

After the law passed on 30 May, judges were given two months to apply the legislation by annulling the charges and cancelling any arrest warrants against the separatists, affecting some 400 people. ALSO READ: Controversial Catalan amnesty law gets final approval in Spanish Congress.

But courts must apply the amnesty on a case-by-case basis, making it a long and drawn-out process, while many judges have made no secret of their reluctance to apply the law, with many openly opposed to it.

The amnesty law sparked months of angry right-wing and far-right street protests and caused deep rifts within Spanish society, even within Sánchez’s own ruling socialist (PSOE) party. ALSO READ: Thousands protest in central Madrid over government’s Catalan amnesty bill.

Click here for all our reports related to Catalan independence.

ALSO READ: Amnesty bill registered in Spanish Congress – full details.

ALSO READ: Puigdemont will still seek to become Catalan president, despite ‘pro-Spain win’.

ALSO READ: Puigdemont says he will return to Spain if he can be elected as Catalan president.

ALSO READ: Spanish Supreme Court officially opens ‘terrorism’ investigation of Carles Puigdemont.

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