Judges extend investigations into Puigdemont's alleged Russian plot and Tsunami terrorism links 

Courts and politicians at odds on eve of Congress vote on amnesty for pro-independence movement 

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont / Parlament Europeu
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

January 29, 2024 02:06 PM

January 29, 2024 06:44 PM

On the eve of a key Congress vote on the draft amnesty law, two judges have extended investigations into Catalan pro-independence figures, including former president Carles Puigdemont. 

The case of the alleged Russian plot over Catalan independence and Manuel García-Castellón's investigation into activist group Tsunami Democràtic will both be extended for six months. 

Pro-independence Junts, meanwhile, are pushing for last-minute changes to the draft amnesty law to ensure Puigdemont and others are protected, while Spain's Socialists have declared themselves "comfortable" with the text as it stands. 

Alleged Russian plot 

The Barcelona judge in charge of the Volhov case, which links former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to an alleged Russian plot to support Catalan independence, has extended the investigation for another six months.  

The judge said that after reviewing documents, he found data confirming the "close personal relationships" between some people close to Puigdemont and people of Russian, German and Italian nationality, some of whom had links to Russian intelligence services

Among those close to Puigdemont under investigation are his office manager Josep Lluís Alay, businessman Víctor Terradellas and computer specialist Jaume Cabaní.   

The court document mentions two meetings between Terradellas and Russian individuals, one of them in the Catalan government headquarters with the presence of Carles Puigdemont, just before the unilateral declaration of independence in 2017.  

The judge says that he also received an anonymous letter at the court, containing newspaper clippings compiled by an international journalistic investigation team, confirming this meeting.

This documentation also refers to an offer of several thousand soldiers and millions of dollars in exchange for an independent Catalonia that would become a cryptocurrency haven

The court decision also establishes that Alay had a series of conversations with Carles Puigdemont's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, through messages that "unequivocally reveal his contacts with high-ranking Kremlin officials".

The judge argues that it is necessary to extend the investigation due to the "complexity of the case," because there are tens of thousands of documents and there is still much to review.

Terrorism investigation 

Manuel García-Castellón, the judge investigating Puigdemont, Esquerra Republicana (ERC) figurehead Marta Rovira, and ten others for terrorism over the actions of protest group Tsunami Democràtic, has also extended his investigation for six months, saying there were still some aspects of the case to be investigated. 

In an interlocutory, the judge said the dozen alleged suspects must be tried for terrorism since they created a stable, hierarchical structure in order to "subvert the constitutional order" through mass mobilization. 

Among the missing elements, he cited the questioning of the relatives of the French tourist who died of a heart attack during the group's occupation of Barcelona Airport in October 2019. 

In November, Spain's public prosecutor ruled out bringing terrorism charges against Puigdemont and Rovira but last week García-Castellón continued in his attempts to ensure the pro-independence figures are excluded from the amnesty law

Draft amnesty law 

The draft amnesty law goes before Congress tomorrow, where it is expected to pass narrowly with the votes of pro-independence parties Junts and ERC 

Esther Peña, spokesperson for Spain's governing Socialists said on Monday her party feels "comfortable" with the wording agreed so far, and that they are not in favor of introducing changes to the text along the lines of the amendments that ERC and Junts hope to include. 

"At the moment we are satisfied with the text that came out, and right now there is no change," she said at a press conference. The parties will "keep talking," she added, saying "there is time" until tomorrow to finish the debate.  


"Between today and tomorrow, we'll continue to talk, of course, with all parties involved in this bill, just as we would with any other bill," Peña said.  

Last week, the Socialists, ERC and Junts agreed to introduce modifications to the draft legislation to protect those being investigated as members of Tsunami Democràtic and the Committees for the Defense of the Republic, and to prevent the maneuvers from judge Manuel García-Castellón to prevent the amnesty from being applied to all the defendants involved. 

What happens next? 

If the law is approved in Congress on Tuesday as expected, the bill will then pass to the Senate, where the conservative People's Party (which has an absolute majority) is already looking for ways to delay its approval.  

In any case, the Senate has a maximum of two months to rule on the legislation. 

The law will then return to Congress where it is set to be approved definitively with the votes of the Socialists, Sumar, ERC, Junts, the Basque National Party, Bildu and BNG, most likely in April or May.