We travelled to the isolated village „Tor“, high in the mountains at the borders of Spain, France and Andorra. In the 90’s a local conflict regarding the ownership of a particular mountain triggered greed among local families and ended in a murder which remains unsolved. Tor was formerly a place where much tobacco product cross-border smuggling took place. Smugglers used to use the mountain paths between Andorra and Tor.
Picture Editor: Trixi Rosi
Art Direction: Felix Bringmann
Client: Stern Crime
The village is 8km away from the spanish-andorran border. The only way that leads there is a small path.
Left: When two tramps found the dead body of Josep Montané while breaking into his house he had already been dead for two weeks.
Right: Ruben Castañer was a Businessman from outside who planned to turn Tor into a touristic ski resort. This caused a dispute between „El Sansa“, who wanted to sell the land to Ruben Castañer, „El Palanca“ who also claimed ownership over the mountain, didn’t accept this deal. Ruben Castañer used to travel to the village only with bodyguards. In 1980 when he visited Tor and ran into „El Palanca“ who always used to have lumberjacks around him for his protection, the bodyguards killed two of Palancas lumberjacks. Ruben Castañer nowadays lives in Reus, in the south of Barcelona. When we met him he was confronting us with an agressive flood of words including conspiracy theories about the murder.
Jordi Riba alias El Palanca always saw himself as the lord of the Tor mountain, which he called „Land with no law.“ He declared war on the murder-victim Sansa, when Sansa developed the plan to build a ski resort on the mountain and claimed that he was it’s sole owner. So it was no wonder that the Guardia Civil Officer who was investigating the murder case immediately suspected Palanca. Yet Palanca and his faithful servant had an alibi for the entire second half of July. And as much as Commissioner Yanes tried to prove gaps, he found none. Nowadays Palanca lives in a guest-house one hour below Tor and suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
Left: The servant of "El Palanca" in Tor.
Right: The Guardia Civil officer investigating the murder case tried to find out where Josep Montané was killed. To learn more about the different states of decomposition he put pieces of meat in different altitudes in the area of Tor.
Left: A Duty Free Shop in Andorra la Vella, the Capital of Andorra. The small country between France and Spain is one of the so-called tax havens.
Right: Border between Andorra and Spain.
Pilar Sisqueta is the owner of the tavern in Tor. She’s 40 years old and grew up there. She heard the tramp’s screams after they discoverd the corpse of Josep Montané. „The locals of Tor are good people. The evil comes from outside,“ she says.