After a total of 33 arrests, three years of investigation during which hundreds of documents were analysed, house searches across the country, hours of phone conversations recorded, bank accounts frozen, and, worst of all, after subjecting some of the accused to months of imprisonment, Spain’s Audiencia Nacional tribunal has closed the legal proceedings and state persecution of anarchists known as Operación Piñata. The reason: lack of sufficient evidence to put anyone on trial. The decision follows the request by defense lawyers to dismiss the investigation.
The police Operation Piñata joins Operations Pandora and Pandora II as criminal cases against the so-called ‘anarcho terrorism’, as the Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martínez, called it during the morning when <span title=”que se produjeron las detenciones) que han terminado por sobreseerse.
“>the arrests took place in March 2015.
Five of the twelve defendants under Operación Piñata were placed in custody for months. The arrest warrants made reference to acts of sabotage, possession of explosives and even ‘<span title=”El auto de prisión hizo referencia en su día a la producción de sabotajes, a la tenencia de explosivos e incluso a “posibles ilícitos penales relacionados con el tráfico de sustancias estupefacientes o psicotrópicas”.
“>possible criminal offences related to trafficking of narcotics or psychotropic substances’: none of which was supported by evidence.
The tribunal decided that the anarchists were arrested without ‘rational indications of a criminal action’, and that ‘the scant intensity of the events attributed by the police makes it impossible to speak of the existence of a terrorist organization since there is no coordinated, hierarchical and structured group; nor do the actions attributed to them have a terrorist purpose’, and that ‘their activities were absolutely legal’.
More than three years have passed since the chief of the national police, Ignacio Cosidó, announced that “anarchist terrorism had gained root in Spain”. This statement never found confirmation in the courts. At no point were the defendants linked to any violent act. The evidence gathered during the three police operations pointed to the ‘crime’ of distributing anarchist literature or publishing essays and books, such as this text entitled Against Democracy.
The three operations taken together amounted to the most virulent offensive against Iberian anarchism since the “Scala case” of 1978. Independently of their legal success or failure, what is always accomplished in such cases is the dismantling of social centres, spreading fear and suspicion among activists, breaking up of networks of mutual aid and the criminalization of the ideology and the movement.