New blow from the National Court to Judge Manuel García Castellón. And of relevance. The Criminal Chamber of the special court, in charge of reviewing the magistrate’s decisions, has annulled as illegal an extension of the Tsunami Democràtic case that the instructor agreed in July 2021, which leaves the indictment of Carles Puigdemont up in the air.

In a ruling, the Criminal Chamber has upheld the appeal of ERC leader Marta Molina, represented by lawyer Marina Roig, and has annulled all investigations into the case since July 2021. This means that Judge García Castellón’s decision to charge Puigdemont, formalised in November 2023, coinciding with the amnesty negotiations, is not valid.

The decision of the Criminal Chamber is relevant because it is one of the first corrections made to the investigating judge. Until now, the magistrates had endorsed García Castellón’s most controversial maneuvers against the amnesty, such as the accusation of terrorism or the decision to send Carles Puigdemont and the ERC parliamentarian Ruben Wagensberg to the Supreme Court.

It remains to be seen what effect the setback will have on the judge. To begin with, the Criminal Chamber has refused to archive the entire case, as requested by the defence of Puigdemont’s head of office, Josep Lluís Alay. However, the Tsunami case is greatly weakened by this decision, especially given the few clues that García Castellón had in July 2021, the date from which everything has been cancelled.

According to the legal sources consulted, by annulling everything that has been done since July 2021, the November 2023 ruling by which the magistrate specified the charges in the case is no longer valid. According to the same sources, this would force the case to be closed for Puigdemont, Wagensberg or the general secretary of ERC, Marta Rovira, and part of the dozen people under investigation in the case who were formally charged in November 2023.

The Tsunami case could only continue for those under investigation who were already charged before July 2021 by Judge Joaquín Aguirre in Barcelona. These are Molina herself, Alay, the former general secretary of ERC Xavier Vendrell and the businessman Oriol Soler.

Judge García Castellón must now decide whether to send the suspects to trial or to close the case. His decision, however, can only be made on the basis of the evidence obtained in the case of Judge Aguirre of Barcelona, ​​who never investigated the separatists for terrorism, but only for public disorder. In parallel, Judge García Castellón will have to determine whether to apply the amnesty to the Tsunami case.

The controversy over the investigation time limits, which the PP reduced to six months (leading to the shelving of several corruption cases) and then the PSOE-led government extended to one year, arose in the Tsunami case because, according to several defence lawyers, the judge agreed to the extension to investigate the case one day later than required by law.

The defense argued that, after the reform came into force on July 28, 2020, Judge García Castellón had one year to investigate the Tsunami case and, if he had not completed the investigation phase, he had to extend it before July 29, 2021. However, the order extending the investigation phase was issued on July 30, one day later than required by law.

The National Court has ruled in favour of the lawyer Marina Roig when she pointed out that the extension ordered by the order of 30 July 2021 of the investigating judge is “untimely”.

The judge considered that the investigation period had not expired due to the order of 30 July 2021 in which he agreed to the extension and that “it gave continuity without any interruption”. However, for the Criminal Chamber this reasoning of the instructor is contradictory, since although both events, “the expiration and its extension are close – they are separated by less than 24 hours – it is clear that the first had occurred when the second was agreed”.

The Court concludes that the proximity in time of the expiration of the deadline and extension does not indicate continuity in the investigation, but precisely the opposite, which leads to invalidating everything investigated since July 2021.


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