Spanish government says Villarejo "has no credibility" and asks Generalitat "not to play his game"

Villarejo claims the State wanted to generate "need for protection" in Catalonia with Ripoll imam

4 min
Judici Villarejo

While waiting for the president of the Spanish government or a minister to make a statement, its delegate in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera, has assured that former superintendent José Manuel Villarejo "has no credibility" after he linked the Spanish National Intelligence Centre (CNI) with the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in August 2017. "He has a long history of trying to sow shadows of suspicion without ever providing evidence," she denounced in a press conference, where she insisted that "the insinuations have no logical or material basis." "There is no other explanation than the desire to stir trouble", she continued. Cunillera also regretted that Villarejo is given credibility by some and has addressed the Catalan government especially to ask it "not to play [Villarejo's] game" because in Catalonia "there is no need for tension". "To what extent do we want to make a lie big and give credibility to those who accuse without evidence?" he asked. He also demanded "respect" for the victims and the investigation that was made of the facts.

After the stir caused by yesterday's allegations, the former superintendent today stuck to his words and denounced that he does not have access to his files to prove the veracity of his claims. Villarejo remarked that Spanish intelligence services had the intention of generating a "need for protection" in Catalonia. The Spanish security institutions, he said, "work creating fictitious cells", although not with the intention of "provoking an attack", but "to give the appearance that Catalonia needs the protection of the State". The problem, he added, is that "it got out of hand when the imam died and the youngsters didn't know how to react". The former superintendent addressed the press when leaving the trial of the Tandem case and there he claimed that he has evidence for what he says, but that the problem is that it has been confiscated by the courts. "It is in my files, but they will not make me a copy", he assured. He has even assured that he "really identifies with Catalonia" because he demands "a minimum of transparency" about what happened on 17-A.

The revelations continue to have consequences in Catalonia. The former Catalan Home Secretary Joaquim Forn has regretted not only that the Prosecutor's Office has not initiated investigations ex officio, but that parliamentary inquiries to clarify the truth about the terror attacks have been impeded. "There are things that we do not like, and there is information that is being hidden," he said. Forn assured that "there has been no transparency" by the State regarding the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and has described these institutions' silence as "surprising".

In this sense, Forn has criticised that the Spanish government, the other parties and the Prosecutor's Office have not yet commented on the former police superintendent's accusations and has demanded a "thorough" investigation. In statements to Catalunya Ràdio, he said that he has always been very cautious about Villarejo's statements, but that whether what he says is true or a lie, an investigation is necessary to clarify it. Forn believes the investigation should have been initiated "ex officio" by the Prosecutor's Office. Forn added that in any democratic European state this would have been so, but that in Spain "nothing is happening".

Forn also said that days after the attacks information "attacking" the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, circulated. He also claims to know that the information came from the Spanish Ministry of Home Affairs. He added that everyone must be held accountable, some as possible perpetrators of the "plot" and others for wanting to "wash their hands". In this sense, he said that he expects a rectification from Podemos, since otherwise they would be "accomplices" of silence.

Puigneró believes that everything will end up in the international justice system

Catalan vice-president Jordi Puigneró spoke along the same lines. On RTVE, he said he expected the terror attacks to end up being investigated by international courts. "We'll see if it is the European justice system that once again has to take the Spanish justice system to task for not investigating," he said. Puigneró has called for an investigation, as did Catalan president Pere Aragonès. Puigneró explained that he had contacted the Generalitat's legal services to study the steps to follow to force the State to do so, and repeated that if the State refuses the case will end up in international courts. The vice president has denounced that "it is worrying that we have not heard anyone from the Spanish government contradict" Villarejo's statements, because "if they are true they are very serious", and has justified in this sense the request for the central executive to appear.

Likewise, Catalan Home Secretary Joan Ignasi Elena has requested that the possible link between the CNI and the 2017 jihadist attacks in Catalonia be investigated. Despite not giving too much credibility to the former superintendent's words, he has admitted that he had a lot of responsibility in previous governments and this "requires some explanation to the victims and citizens, by the Spanish government and Parliament, with an investigation."

Colau: "If serious allegations are made, they must be accompanied by evidence"

On the other hand, the PSC spokeswoman in Parliament, Alícia Romero, has dodged the request to investigate stating that "it is grave that credibility is given" to a person who "may not have told the truth during a trial". Less categorical was the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, who urged Villarejo to provide "clarifications and transparency" around the facts to avoid more suffering to the victims. "If serious statements are made, they must be accompanied by evidence," she said. The mayor has also asked to avoid "political battles" and to move away from "partisan uses" derived from the statements of the former commissioner. In this sense, she described him as a "dark" character, without assessing his credibility.