7th December 2019
Ferran López
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Catalan Trial: Day 26 summary

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont pledged to declare independence if the 2017 independence referendum led to ‘incidents’, according to Ferran López, the then second-in-command of the Catalan police (the Mossos d’Esquadra), testifying in the Supreme Court on day 26 of the Catalan trial.

Catalan Trial: click here full details of those accused, the charges, and the accusers.

On Wednesday morning, López spoke as a witness in the Madrid court where 12 pro-independence leaders are facing trial for holding the vote despite Spain’s opposition.

‘The Catalan police never collaborated either in the preparation or in the execution of the referendum,’ the right-hand man of former Mossos d’Esquadra police chief Josep Lluís Trapero told the court.

López, who later replaced Trapero after Madrid imposed direct rule on Catalonia, told the court that the Catalan police ‘attempted to comply with the judicial order [to prevent the vote].’

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In fact, López claimed that the Mossos leadership expressed ‘concern’ to then president Puigdemont about the referendum day, and that police chief Trapero asked Catalan government leaders to ‘comply with the judicial orders and not to hold the referendum’.

Ferran López
Ferran López testifying in the Supreme Court on 3 April 2019 (EFE, via ACN)

Stressing the gap between the government and police leaderships, López said, ‘we had a [home affairs] minister who was reacting in the opposite way to us,’ referencing Joaquim Forn, who is on trial, who he said made the ‘mistake’ of pledging the vote would go ahead.

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According to Trapero’s former deputy, the Catalan police were ‘still worried’ after a first meeting with the Catalan government, and urged them to meet again, and made it clear to the executive that if the referendum took place, ‘there would be problems’.

López also addressed doubts about the Catalan police’s commitment to stopping the referendum, saying officers were deployed in 2,300 polling stations with orders to close them when the best moment arose (ie when there were fewer people there).

The former deputy police chief also said that on the day of the 1 October referendum, Mossos d’Esquadra officers seized a total of 423 ballot boxes, 90,000 ballot papers, and 60,000 envelopes.

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The former Mossos second-in-command also denied accusations that the Catalan police failed to support Spanish officers, accusing Spanish law enforcement of not sharing information and breaking off the coordinated police operation on the day of the vote.

What’s more, López insisted that the Catalan police were always ‘loyal’ to Diego Pérez de los Cobos, the Guardia Civil colonel charged with coordinating the different police forces during the independence referendum.

Background

Previous witnesses in the trial had already raised the stakes for López’s testimony. While Trapero stressed that the Mossos always complied with court orders and rejected independence plans, the Spanish Guardia Civil lieutenant Diego Pérez de los Cobos accused the Catalan police of being intentionally passive during the vote.

Trapero explained that López attended meetings with Pérez de los Cobos on his behalf, acknowledging that his own relationship with the Guardia Civil official was not the best. Trapero was wary of Pérez de los Cobos’ role as the coordinator of different police bodies during the 1 October referendum.

The Spanish government appointed López as Trapero’s substitute during the takeover of Catalan institutions under Article 155, triggered after a declaration of independence. López left the post shortly after pro-independence parties regained control of the Catalan executive.

Afternoon testimonies

Half a dozen Spanish police officers gave their testimony in the Catalan independence trial on Wednesday afternoon.

Guardia Civil officers recalled their experience during the independence referendum on 1 October 2017. Some of them were allegedly injured during the operation to stop the vote.

One Guardia Civil officer testifying on Wednesday said that voters took away his shield and baton: ‘I was on the floor, being kicked and punched. I even lost my helmet,’ he said.

ALSO READ: Puigdemont revisits Neumünster, cricitices EU’s ‘double standards’

Another officer said that voters called them ‘murderers, sons of bitches, and repressive forces,’ adding: ‘They tried to steal the shield from me, and my left wrist was injured.’

The same Guardia Civil officer also said he was ‘kicked and hit’ by voters, and added that people spat on the police.

Another witness described efforts to get into the polling station at Sant Cebrià de Vallalta, saying voters called the police ‘fascists,’ while the Catalan police ‘didn’t do anything’.

The officer added that the protestors in Sant Cebrià de Vallalta even tried to steal his pistol: ‘Thank God they couldn’t figure out the mechanism to take it out of its holster,’ he said.

Catalan Trial: click here full details of those accused, the charges, and the accusers.

Click here for all articles and updates on the Catalan Trial

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