Operation Ice

In a wave of political repression, six students were arrested in Madrid on November 5, 2015. The students belong to a Straight Edge collective and were arrested for supposedly setting fire to two banks as well as storing materials to make homemade explosives.

Nahuel is still in jail and coping with a tough prison regime designed for hardcore terrorists. While his colleagues have been released on bail, Nahuel has been moved five times and denied bail almost as many. When the trial finally comes up, the students will stand in the dock on four terrorism charges that could see them put behind bars for 35 years. But the indictment – particularly when it comes to the question of the attacks on banks – is far from convincing.

Straight Edge is just one of a number of mysterious so-called terrorist groups that have emerged in Spain following reforms to the Penal Code in March 2015, which, after agreement between the ruling Popular Party and opposition Socialists, modified the definition of terrorism with a view to combating jihadism. Terrorism can now apply, among other things, to acts of civil disorder and so when, for example, two policemen and their partners were attacked in a bar in Alsasua, Navarre, in October, their attackers found themselves labeled as terrorists. This triggered debate. Now Bustamante’s indictment is under the same kind of scrutiny, as are the rulings of Judge Carmen Lamela, who is involved in both cases.

The Straight Edge anarchists are accused of setting fire to two Madrid bank branches, one in 2013 and the other in 2015, despite the fact there is no direct evidence linking them to the crime. What led the police to become “convinced” of their guilt was that the group’s graffiti had appeared at the scene of one of these crimes two weeks earlier, posts on social networks had urged bank sabotage and a member of the group lived close to one of the bank branches in question. The group’s ideology, their anti-establishment rants on Twitter and Facebook as well as several videos on YouTube aiming to “subvert the Constitution” have also been thrown into the mix. According to Judge Lamela, all the available evidence points to the group’s involvement in what amounts to terrorism.

Meanwhile, the materials seized during police raids and alleged to be for the manufacture of explosives consist of smoke-generating canisters, flares and firecrackers – all freely available on the open market. But the police report goes on to say that the powders these products contain could be used as explosives if placed in the right container. However, the group has not been accused of planting any of these materials while substances confiscated during the raids have been found to be cooking and cleaning products and, according to police, are not ideal for making explosives, although experts suggest they could be used to make smoke bombs.

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