The Spanish police investigation into last year's Tsunami Democràtic protests is hanging by a thread. The Civil Guard is hunting for an organizer of the France-Spain motorway border blockade. An act which, according to the Spanish Penal Code, can only be classified as disorderly behaviour and property damage, and which, apart from the surprise it caused and the transport chaos it generated, did not go any further.
The protest, part of the response to the sentencing of the Catalan pro-independence leaders, was announced on social media, and the Civil Guard has dug into Facebook and Twitter evidence to try to show that there was a major organization behind the spectacular action - as well as a mastermind for the plot. But the fact is, the investigations so far have not unearthed any known author. There are 196 people charged, some of the group who cut the AP-7 motorway. They were identified at the motorway protests and some had their cars towed away.
The police summary of the investigation, to which ElNacional.cat has had access, shows that the police have no basis on which to open another general case against the independence movement. They don't even have enough to attempt a terrorism charge (under Spain's wide-ranging terrorism law).
The Civil Guard is pushing on with an investigation based on the social media profiles of the protesters - obviously pro-independence - and their online posts. To keep the case alive they are tracking vehicle license plates. They have the lorry and the van that brought a stage which was set up at the motorway blockade point. And the last big revelation: a router and a Movistar SIM card that the Mossos found.
The stage vehicles
A little before 9am on November 11th last year, dozens of cars stopped on the AP-7, the main Spain-France border-crossing motorway, at La Jonquera, and began to assemble a stage and all the technical lighting and sound equipment for the performances that were planned over the 72 hours which the protest was meant to last.
The element of surprise worked perfectly. Within hours, hundreds of people were blocking the highway. Twenty-five hours later the eviction began. Towtrucks, from both the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra and the French Gendarmerie, began to remove cars. Among these vehicles were the two which had brought the stage to La Jonquera.
The police begin to follow the trail and it led them to a company in Alicante, hundreds of kilometres to the south. Its owner is the same person who turned up to repossess the vehicles. And here the investigation ends. Because the company has not been operating since 2007 and its factory is empty.
For the Civil Guard, the driver is the lead they have follow, the first known perpetrator of this anonymous organization, Tsunami Democràtic. And they accuse him of being "the primary person responsible for setting up the stage." An action which, in itself, is not criminal.
The router and SIM card
No police expulsion of the protesters took place on that first afternoon, November 11th, and the highway continued to be closed. But the next morning, the Gendarmerie moved in. A rapid eviction, using gas, which forced everyone to retreat south, in the direction of Catalonia, where the Catalan Mossos police had been deployed.
All the demonstrators descended from the motorway via paths to the town of El Pertús.
Down below the motorway, on the old highway where the frontier post is, is where the Mossos d'Esquadra found the router and the SIM card, which they attribute to the organizers of the protest. But at the time of the eviction of the demonstrators, that area was full of journalists taking pictures and sending them to their newsrooms. It was also the place of refuge for hundreds of people, of all ages, who were leaving in an orderly fashion to avoid the police.
The Mossos handed over the router and the SIM card to the Civil Guard, which was carrying out the investigation and had to analyze its contents. But so far they haven't expanded these inquiries, according to sources close to the case.
Much of the police summary consists of the files on those identified and arrested. Of the 196 people arrested, only one testified. The rest made use of their right to remain silent.
Police are investigating the background of those who they identified, especially two of them, who are noted to have been arrested in 1978, 1986 and 1995 for "membership of an armed or terrorist gang." No further details are given. Nor whether they were prosecuted, convicted or the case for which they were arrested was dropped. Nor in the rest of the summary is there any further development of the information on these two arrested individuals, beyond the fact that their car was stopped in the middle of the AP7 motrway blockade.
'Estelades' and stickers
To reinforce the theory that everything was perfectly organized, the Civil Guard searched social media and copied profile information of those people who were identified. All of them pro-independence. Some of them with pro-independence estelada flags, calling for the Catalan Republic, and with posts calling on people to go to La Jonquera, once the call had already been made public.
As suspicious elements pointing to the identity of the possible organizers, the Civil Guard also publish photographs of cars with pro-independence posters. Or even with the marks left behind after stickers have been removed.