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Spain's Supreme Court has opened a case against the Catalan president in exile and MEP, Carles Puigdemont, to investigate him for the crime of terrorism in the Democratic Tsunami case, as the court itself announced this Thursday. The court also agrees to investigate Ruben Wagensberg, a Catalan MP for the ERC party, because, like Puigdemont, he is partially shielded by parliamentary immunity and must be tried in a higher court. Moreover, the Supreme Court rules that the actions carried out in 2019 by the pro-independence Tsunami protest platform went beyond Catalonia, otherwise the court to investigate these two would be the Catalan High Court (TSJC), and for the other 10 people investigated for terrorism in the case, it returns the investigation to the National Audience judge, Manuel García-Castellón, whose thesis has been accepted by the Supreme Court judges.

That is, according to Susana Polo, judge-spokesperson for the Supreme Court in the case against Puigdemont and Wagensberg, the court equates Tsunami with the "street terrorism" category which has been used to describe the actions of the kale borroka in the Basque Country, which generally consisted of property damage and destruction, aimed at political opponents.


In the resolution, the Supreme Court maintains that there is evidence of Puigdemont's "participation" in the anonymous, social-media based Tsunami platform because the Junts leader "was informed" of the constitution of the platform as an "organized group for the subversion of the constitutional order and serious destabilization of democratic institutions."

"Charismatic support"

The court, presided over by Manuel Marchena, criminalizes Puigdemont for his "charismatic support" to Tsunami, an expression used in the report presented by prosecutor Fidel Cadena, which was not the definitive opinion given to the court by a divided prosecution service, with the prosecutors' final report finding no evidence against the Catalan president in exile.

"He could have withdrawn his charismatic support, but far from doing that he encouraged the continuation of the violent actions that took place with his knowledge and consent," says the Spanish high court, directly accuses the Catalan politician. In other words, according to the judge, there is evidence against Puigdemont "by omission" because he allowed the mobilizations, especially the one at Barcelona airport, and did not publicly say that the protest had to stop.

In fact, the summary report of the Tsunami investigation contains no direct action by Puigdemont: he did not take part in any of the protests in Catalonia, nor did he call for violence. In the investigation, only one meeting is alleged in Geneva, at which Tsunami could have been presented to him. And one conversation with the businessperson Josep Campmajó, also investigated in the Tsunami case, in which Puigdemont states that he hopes that "there will not be any deaths on either side". This statement was interpreted by the prosecutors as meaning that the Catalan president did not want violent actions. However, for the Supreme Court, it is not enough.

A new request to lift immunity

The judges conclude that with respect to Puigdemont and Wagensberg it is "necessary and pertinent that they be called to the proceedings, in order to be heard as investigated, with all the rights and guarantees provided for in our legal system". It remains to be seen, however, if the Supreme Court must first request a new petition from the European Parliament in order to question it. In the case of Catalan MP Wagensberg, at the end of January this year, he let it be known that he had shifted his residence to Switzerland due to mental health problems caused by the judicial persecution he has been undergoing.  

Beyond ETA and jihadism

In its resolution, the Supreme Court makes an in-depth analysis of the actions that are currently included in the crime of terrorism, making a direct criticism: "The assertion that emerges from some politicians and media that only the actions of ETA or the Jihad deserve to be treated as terrorism, is incompatible with the definition of terrorism derived from the current article 573 of the Penal Code". However, victims of terrorism by both the Basque armed group and the Islamist movement have criticized that associating Tsunami with terrorism "banalizes" the crime.

The court notes that the definition of the crime of terrorism in Spain was reformed in 2015 and that - despite being criticised for a lack of clarity - it mirrors European regulations. This reform was, in fact, carried out in order to combat kale borroka actions in the Basque Country, and the court now equates Tsunami with these same practices, reproducing instances of convictions made in the Basque context.