Intelligence Agency wanted to give Catalonia a "little scare" with Ripoll imam, Villarejo says

The ex-superintendent blames his enemy Félix Sanz Roldán: "He miscalculated the consequences"

3 min
L'excomissari José Manuel Villarejo, arrived at the Audiencia Nacional

MadridJosé Manuel Villarejo continues with his strategy of dropping grandiloquent and serious statements to defend himself in his judicial cases. On the second day of questioning in the first trial of the Tándem case, this Tuesday he again talked about the terror attacks on August 17, 2017 in Barcelona and Cambrils, and has linked them to Spain's National Intelligence Center (CNI). The former National Police superintendent has asserted that the former director of intelligence services Félix Sanz Roldán "miscalculated the consequences of giving Catalonia a little scare".

"It was a serious mistake," Villarejo said during his statement. It did not come to the point, but when asked about his collaboration with the CNI he contextualised that he was working with them "until the last day". "I worked with them to try to fix the mess of the famous attack by the Ripoll imam," he said. A year ago he had already linked the CNI with the 2017 terrorist attacks in Catalonia, in a trial that Sanz Roldán pushed against him for slander and making false allegations, after Villarejo said the former director of the CNI harassed forme king Juan Carlos's ex mistress Corinna Larsen. Villarejo was acquitted.

That time the ex-superintendent had already warned that the Spanish intelligence services had ignored a warning of a "significant risk" of an attack in Barcelona. Villarejo asserted that the CNI did not give credibility to a "reliable" source that he wanted to infiltrate, because they warned that some imams in Catalonia were from the Moroccan secret services. This was stated in some work notes from 2015, he explained, but the CNI dismissed it.

The figure of the imam of Ripoll, Abdelbaki es Satty, hangs over the suspicions about the terrorist attack. Part of the prosecution –especially the father of a boy from Rubí who died in La Rambla– proposed during the trial of the attacks that the relationship between the CNI and the imam of Ripoll be investigated, but did not succeed. Es Satty died in Alcanar as a consequence of the manipulation of explosives that caused the destruction of the chalet where the terrorists were preparing the attack, and he was immediately considered the "mastermind" of the operation. Throughout the trial, some witnesses corroborated his radicalisation, but it was not clear whether he was in fact the mastermind behind the attacks.

The president of a Belgian community affirmed that Es Satty had explained to him that he had contacts with Spanish secret agents. And the judicial summary of terror attacks case included a report from Penitentiary Institutions that revealed Es Satty Received a visit by two CNI agents and two Guardia Civil officers at Castellón prison between 2010 and 2014, where he was serving a sentence for drug trafficking. The Spanish government's subdelegation in Castellón ordered his expulsion, but a judge revoked it, alleging "evident work ties" and his "effort to integrate."

Request for explanations

Reactions to the ex-commissioner's words have not taken long to arrive through social networks. Former president of the Generalitat Quim Torra has described Villarejo's allegations as "extremely serious": "We would be facing a state crime. We must go all the way". The Catalan minister of Home Affairs at the time, Joaquim Forn, wondered "what the Prosecutor's Office intends to do. Whistle like Parliament?". "We have the right to know the truth," he demanded.

ERC spokesman in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, has announced the request for the appearance of the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez; the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska; and the former director of the CNI Félix Sanz Roldán. "The government cannot keep quiet," he tweeted. "When will we decide enough is enough?" asked Junts spokeswoman Míriam Nogueras, who recalled that PSOE, PP, Cs and Vox voted against a commission of inquiry on the terrorist attack.

No evidence

Villarejo has not provided any evidence about these statements and, as he does with other issues that he spreads even if they are not related to what he is being tried for, he has shielded himself in that justice does not allow him access to his diaries. This Monday he also took refuge in the Catalunya operation and the alleged manipulated recordings to defend himself. As he did the last time he appeared before the investigating commission for the Kitchen case in Parliament, he has spoken of judges and prosecutors who frequent brothels and take cocaine.