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Home » Content » García-Castellón insists Tsunami was a “terrorist group”
The lieutenant prosecutor María Ángeles Sánchez Conde and the Swiss authorities cool the forceful accusation formulated by the magistrate of the National High Court. The scourge of the politicisation of justice in Spain is much more pronounced than the judicialisation of politics.

Editorial, 29 February 2024

L’expresident de la Generalitat i eurodiputat de Junts, Carles Puigdemont

The lieutenant prosecutor María Ángeles Sánchez Conde and the Swiss authorities cool the forceful accusation formulated by the magistrate of the National High Court

“Mere conjectures or suspicions”. This is how the deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court, María Ángeles Sánchez Conde, has described the attempts by Judge Manuel García-Castellón to charge Carles Puigdemont and Ruben Wagensberg, both expatriates from Spain and residents in Belgium and Switzerland, respectively, with the crime of terrorism. The position of Sánchez Conde, aligned with the government of Pedro Sánchez, is a torpedo to the board of prosecutors of the Supreme Court, which by majority determined that there is sufficient evidence to, at least, make an investigation for terrorism for the role of the two in the organisation of the Democratic Tsunami.

In just 24 hours, the judge received two blows: one from the lieutenant prosecutor; and the other from the Swiss justice system, which refused to help him investigate Marta Rovira, also implicated in the case and resident in Geneva. The worst of the case is that the Swiss Ministry of Justice refused a coordination meeting with the Spanish justice system to resolve any doubts about the rogatory commission, which also requested data from an account of CUMBRE Banque Genève-*Wollerau-Lugano, allegedly controlled by Marta Rovira and which could have been used to finance Tsunami activities.

Rovira’s indictment takes on a political dimension thanks to the interference of the executive powers of Spain and Switzerland in the judicial proceedings. The Swiss country refused to help Judge García-Castellón, claiming that it is a political matter. But it is not a judge who says so, but a politician. And, as the Spanish magistrate later accuses, “the incongruity that can be seen in the wording of the request must be underlined in the Swiss response, given that on the one hand the sender refers to an alleged political background to the request for judicial cooperation and, simultaneously, the sender takes a shocking interest in a question of an eminently political nature, alienated from the strict jurisdictional framework in which this type of request must be aired”.

“This magistrate has spent a large part of his professional career in the field of international judicial cooperation and has served as a liaison magistrate for Spain in the republics of France and Italy. The accumulated experience allows us to affirm that judicial cooperation is based on the essential principle for the good functioning of the existing mechanisms, trust between the authorities when it comes to dealing with what is requested”, the magistrate stated in a letter on 21 February, after the refusal of the Swiss authorities to provide him with information.

García-Castellón recalled that his 17 years exercising international functions are sufficient to know the problems he was facing, and requested an “urgent” meeting with Guillaume Rousseau, representative of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, on 27 November, between the competent Swiss authorities and the representation of Spain in Eurojust, which is the European agency through which conflicts are settled. Switzerland turned a deaf ear and did not reply.

Beyond the formal motivations, the judge of the Audiencia Nacional has several reports from the Guardia Civil, the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, the Mossos d’Esquadra and the Guardia Urbana of Barcelona in which the actions of the Democratic Tsunami in the autumn of 2019 are described as “terrorist acts”.

Puigdemont, at the apex

An extensive report by the Guardia Civil implicates the main defendants in the “serious disturbances, as well as significant economic and public order damages” in the last third of 2019. It places Carles Puigdemont at the top of the organisation, followed by Marta Rovira and Xavier Vendrell. Alongside Puigdemont, there is the head of his office, Josep Lluís Alay. “Alay is the nexus of connection between the Democratic Tsunami platform and the former president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont,” says the police report.

The dossier reports that Jesús Rodríguez Sellés gives Alay “news about the situation of Tsunami during its beginnings, the preparatory acts and the support obtained by the platform, seeking the acquiescence of Puigdemont”. In this way, the ultimate responsibility for the strategy and concrete actions of the organisation would be that of the former president. Rodriguez communicates with Alay through the Signal application. On 20 August 2019, Jesús Rodríguez wrote to Puigdemont’s right-hand man: “On Monday 26 August the profiles of the Democratic Tsunami campaign will be announced in response to the Supreme Court ruling. I suppose that Òmnium will inform President Puigdemont directly. I’ll let you know in advance so that you have a record”.

The launch of Tsunami was several days late, but one thing does not take away from the other: Puigdemont was perfectly aware of what was cooking on the Tsunami cooker. Jesús Rodríguez, on 22 August of that year, told Alay that “the Tsunami coordination group” had doubts about the date of its launch as a movement on social networks, studying 26 August or 30 August, after a summit in Geneva, attended by the leaderships of Junts, ERC and CUP, President Quim Torra, delegations from the ANC and Òmnium Cultural and Arnaldo Otegi. What Rodríguez asked was to “transfer the doubt to the president” in order to leave it up to him to set the date. Finally, the platform was launched on 2 September, after the summit. A few minutes after it was announced, Marta Rovira issued a tweet supporting Tsunami. ERC spokesperson Marta Vilalta also acknowledged that day that a common strategy was not defined at the summit, “but they did manage to agree on support for Democratic Tsunami, which that same day published its first communiqué”.

There is another detail that underpins the common interests of Òmnium and Puigdemont: Alay, according to the aforementioned report, “liaises with the commission or those in charge of the economic management of the Democratic Tsunami platform, such as Jaume Cabaní. This statement is confirmed by the conversations (via messaging) that the investigated person had with Nicola Foglia, who says that he wants to make a financial contribution, but that he first contacts Alay, who defines the way to do it and the contact person”.

The Italian Foglia was a former pro-independence banker who contributed money to pay the costs of the assault on El Prat airport on 14 October 2019. The money was paid into a Swiss account controlled by Cabaní, which Alay provided to Foglia. It follows that Cabaní was involved in Tsunami’s financial area (in fact, messages about fundraising were intercepted from him). But, at the same time, he was Puigdemont’s accountant, in charge of setting up the opaque plumbing so that the former president could receive funds without auditing Waterloo: and, on the other hand, he also worked for Òmnium Cultural and was the one who set up part of the structure of this entity in Belgium.

The report thus details that each member of Tsunami had perfectly assigned roles, which gives it the characteristic of a hierarchical and structured organisation, compatible with the qualification of a “terrorist group”. Moreover, its members had camouflage technology to try to avoid police control of their communications or actions.

The role of Marta Rovira

The report explains that Xavier Vendrell communicated with Marta Rovira through the Threema application, and “that he uses the pseudonym Matagalls. From these communications it can be seen that Vendrell is part of the organisation of the Democratic Tsunami platform, and that he is in charge of promoting or directing the beginnings of the platform, since he shows prior knowledge of the actions that were carried out and that were meticulously devised and planned”. In addition, he does not rule out the possibility that he could play the “possible role of ideologist of the movement”.

What is beyond doubt is that Vendrell, former ERC Secretary of Organisation and former Minister of Governance, holds “a managerial position with command over the different people who make up Tsunami. This point is demonstrated by the expressions Vendrell uses, for example, in a message of 5 October 2019, via Threema, with the user Matagalls [Marta Rovira], in which Vendrell states: ‘My people can do it without the support of the structure, but not with the structure against them’. Along the same lines, but in another conversation held by Threema with Matagalls, the latter indicates that people are being recruited to do ‘your action’, in reference to Tsunami’s actions”.

Whether the alleged acts can be considered “acts of terrorism” is another matter. For the investigators, yes: “They tried to shoot down a helicopter with flares, they tried to violently storm the airport, a basic infrastructure, they tried to burn a police car with officers inside, they attacked officers with Molotov cocktails and blunt weapons, they spread terror in the streets of Barcelona, they tried to storm official buildings, they tried to force the repeal of the Constitution and they tried to cause as much economic damage as possible to the state. These extremes fall within the scope of the alleged acts of terrorism”, a source close to the investigations told EL TRIANGLE.

This multiplicity of acts is what gives the Democratic Tsunami platform a dimension that qualifies it as a “terrorist group”. The same judge García-Castellón, in his response to Switzerland this February, warned that “the actions of this group or organisation are not limited to a single act, as described in the international rogatory commission sent, but encompass several actions, which are interrupted by the health crisis at the beginning of 2020 and which they try to reactivate, without success, in mid-2020”.

In a previous act, the magistrate had already stated that the creation of Tsunami was not a one-day even but had a more forceful intention. His strategy was framed “in a series of planned actions for destabilisation, aimed at the ultimate goal of achieving the independence of Catalonia”. He would be helped in this endeavour by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR). “We have to remember that the Tsunami mobilisations coincided in time with the facts investigated in the summary 5/2021 of this central court, where, according to the accusation made by the prosecutor, the evidence has shown that a group of CDRs were planning to commit attacks through the use of explosives, and that they were classified as belonging to a terrorist organisation”.

All of these clear and diaphanous visions of the public ministry, at the time qualified as terrorist acts, are now seen in a completely opposite way, after Pedro Sánchez’s pact with Carles Puigdemont in exchange for the seven votes of JxCat for the investiture of the socialist as president of the government. What were once clear facts are now “mere conjecture”. The confrontation between the attorney general of the State and the deputy attorney general of the Supreme Court and the prosecutors on the frontline project a pitiful image that undermines the credibility and reliability of an institution that should be looking after the public interest, far from political guidelines. The scourge of the politicisation of justice in Spain is much more pronounced than the judicialisation of politics.



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