No terror crimes or public disturbances, not even intent to cause any. On Tuesday a court cleared Tamara Carrasco of all charges. The Viladecans activist was arrested two and a half years ago on terrorism charges as part of the first major investigation into Catalonia’s CDR [Committees for the Defence of the Republic], but the case against her has now been dismissed. Initially Spain’s Audiencia Nacional court held the terrorism charges against Carrasco for over one year and she was forbidden from leaving her home town. Eventually the judge dropped the charges filed by the Prosecution and transferred her case to a criminal court in Barcelona. The public prosecutor accused her of inciting public disturbances and requested a seven-month prison sentence, but now the judge has ruled that she is innocent.
Given the importance of the case, Carrasco —who has chosen not to talk to media— responded to a statement by Catalonia’s High Court announcing that “a Viladecans woman” had been acquitted of one count of public disturbance, merely pointing out it was she who had been cleared.
The ruling is a blow to the first major legal case brought against the CDR for alleged terror crimes. The judge has criticised the Guardia Civil’s investigation as well as the position of the Prosecution. First of all, the ruling denies that there was any evidence of “disturbances” during the protests that followed Carles Puigdemont’s arrest in Germany in March 2018. Secondly, the court slams the Guardia Civil for resting an entire case of terrorism —a “major” crime— on a WhatsApp message that circulated on social networks.
Carrasco’s lawyer, Benet Salellas, stated that “the ruling does not clear Ms Carrasco owing to reasonable doubt or a lack of evidence, but because her actions were lawful. It proves we were right in our rejection of the message that they have been sending for months now, hoping to criminalise and smear the CDR”. “The court specifically states that the actions of March 2018 were perfectly legal under the right of assembly”, he insisted.
The only evidence against Tamara Carrasco was a voice message she sent to a private WhatsApp group. The Prosecutor referred to it as “a blueprint” for the boycott actions that would be carried out if Puigdemont was arrested. In court the activist denied having issued any “instructions” and stated that she merely passed on information about what had been discussed at a local CDR meeting. The court believed her: “it hasn’t been proven that the defendant sent the voice message to anybody else apart from her group of friends on WhatsApp, nor that she played a coordinating role for the so-called Committees for the Defence of the Republic”, says the ruling.
A “frivolous” investigation
The ruling includes some harsh words aimed at the Guardia Civil —who investigated the case— and the Prosecution. “It is frivolous that a police investigation into major crimes such as terrorism, rebellion and sedition should not indicate the source which provided the voice message on which the entire case is built and that supports the charges against Ms Carrasco”, writes the judge. The leading Guardia Civil officer in the case contradicted his colleagues and initially stated that he did not recall how they had got hold of the audio file and that in this sort case they frequently went “out on a limb”. Then he mentioned a possible police informer. However, the rest of the team admitted that they had got the audio from a social network.
As for the Prosecution, the judge claims it is at fault for failing to provide “any evidence” to support the idea that any “crimes of public disturbance” were committed on 26-27 March 2018, as disrupting the train service or cutting off a motorway are not punishable offences. That alone, says the judge, is enough to exonerate Tamara Carrasco but, furthermore, no evidence has been provided to show that she or other individuals “sent out” the audio message on WhatsApp.
Grounds for compensation
The ruling is not definitive and may still be appealed by the prosecution. However, people close to Carrasco —who had always argued she was the scapegoat in a political case against the CDR— are already talking of asking the State for compensation for the time the Audiencia Nacional kept her confined to her home town and for taking away her passport, as Salellas pointed out.
It remains to be seen whether this judgement will have any bearing on the situation of Adrià Carrasco, who was being investigated in the same case and managed to flee into exile in Belgium. Speaking to this newspaper, Adrià Carrasco stated that he is not considering a return to Catalonia, as his is “a separate case” and first he wishes to see how things pan out for him. However, he did stress that this ruling sets “a precedent” in the investigation against the CDR.