While Spanish police arrest 21 in recent raids on Catalan separatists, a judge in Barcelona is probing possible links between the activists who initiated 2017 events. Recent series of the raids were successful, a large number of documents have been seized as part of the investigation.
Catalonia’s 2017 attempt to declare independence from the rest of Spain was organized thoroughly, said Barcelona judge on Thursday. As EuroNews reports, some of those activists are definitely linked to Russia.
According to Wednesday’s probe, which was partly based on evidence that purported Russian agents allegedly offered to provide military aid to Catalan separatists in 2017, the Spanish investigators have got a new version.
Taking into account the new data, probe targets the alleged misuse of public funds for the separatist movement in Spain, as well as the alleged role of Russian-backed disinformation campaigns to discredit Spain.
“Russian interference as a geopolitical strategy was a fact during the fall of 2017 when (the Russians) spread fake news and disinformation”, judge Joaquin Aguirre said.
Investigations revealed money intended for Barcelona’s provincial government and a regional entity for promoting sports teams had been diverted illegally, the ministry said.
Authorities also say the suspects may have lied about the use of rural land in the town of Cabrera de Mar to build a business centre, a restaurant and a school, following an investigation by Guardia Civil.
“Different ways of financing with public funds the irregular activities unrelated to the legal destination of the money are being investigated,” Spain’s interior ministry said in a statement. He added that the individuals were being investigated for alleged embezzlement of public funds and money laundering.
This month, Spanish police have arrested 21 suspects on suspicions of corruption and promoting public disorder. The arrests took place during 31 police raids in the Catalan cities of Barcelona and Girona early on Wednesday morning.
One of the detained was Josep Lluis Alay, a close collaborator of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont. Others included David Madi and Oriol Vendrell, two former politicians for Catalonia’s major separatist parties.