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Catalonian politicians call for probe into allegations Spanish spooks were behind 2017 terrorist attacks

Former police commissioner says CNI orchestrated the attacks in order to scare region away from voting for independence

CATALONIAN politicians called on the European Parliament yesterday to investigate allegations made by a former police chief that the Spanish National Intelligence Service had a hand in the 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.

Sixteen people were killed in the terrorist attacks on August 17, 2017, when a man ploughed a van into pedestrians walking along Barcelona’s La Rambla, and five other men did the same in Cambrils. All the attackers were eventually killed by the police.

Spain's then prime minister Mariano Rajoy blamed the attacks on Isis.

On Wednesday, however, former police commissioner Jose Manuel Villarejo — who is on trial for a slew of charges including bribery, extortion, forgery and then some; all involving Spanish politicians, police officers, business and media figures — told a Spanish High Court judge a different story.

“I worked with the service to try to fix the mess of the famous attack by the Imam of Ripoll,” he said, “which in the end was a serious mistake by [former director Felix] Sanz Roldan, who miscalculated the consequences of causing a small scare in Catalonia.”

Mr Villarejo told a Spanish journalist yesterday that the service wanted the attack to generate a “need for protection” from the Spanish state just two months before the 2017 Catalonian independence referendum, which the state declared illegal before sending in the police, who then brutally attacked voters.

Catalonia president Carles Puigedemont, three Catalonian MEPs and another from the Basque Country told European Parliament Commissioner Didier Reynders that Mr Villarejo’s allegations carried grave implications.

The lack of transparency and willingness from the authorities to look into this matter “sends a dangerous and worrying message, not only to Catalan and Spanish citizens, but also to the European Union as a whole,” they said.

“We demand that a thorough investigation is conducted in order to clarify whether the serious allegations connecting the service and the mastermind of the attacks are true and to determine the responsibility deriving from the findings.

“We owe it to the victims of this tragedy. We owe it to our fellow citizens. And we owe it to democracy itself.”

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