22nd July 2019
Juan Carlos Molinero
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Catalan Trial: Day 27 summary

Juan Carlos Molinero, the second-in-command of the Catalan police (the Mossos d’Esquadra) during the 2017 independence referendum, began his testimony in Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday morning, on the 27th day of the Catalan trial.

Along with Ferran López, who appeared as a witness the previous day, Molinero was the deputy chief of Josep Lluís Trapero.

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

Juan Carlos Molinero told the Supreme Court that the Catalan police ‘never’ kept tabs on other police forces ‘either during the referendum or at any other moment’, dismissing the allegations as ‘totally false’.

In his testimony, Molinero also insisted that all the various police forces involved in the operation to stop the independence referendum on 1 October 2017, held ‘equal responsibilities’.

Juan Carlos Molinero
Juan Carlos Molinero testifying in the Supreme Court on 4 April 2019 (EFE / ACN)

The former deputy police chief also said that Diego Pérez de los Cobos – the Spanish Guardia Civil colonel in charge of coordinating the different law enforcement agencies during the referendum – ‘never objected to the Mossos operation planned for October 1.’

Molinero’s comments come after a number of high-ranking Spanish police officials who have testified in recent weeks have cast doubt on the commitment of the Mossos d’Esquadra to fully cooperate in the attempts to halt the 2017 independence bid.

ALSO READ: Catalan trial: controversy over ‘rebellion’ and violence

Addressing allegations that the Catalan police did not do enough to carry out court orders to prevent the referendum, Molinero said the Mossos did not close down polling stations ahead of the vote because they couldn’t find any ballot boxes, ballot papers, or computers.

Molinero also justified the actions of the Catalan police on the day of the referendum, saying Barcelona could have become a ‘battlefield’ between far-right and anti-fascist protestors had Catalan officers not been deployed to police their respective demonstrations.

The former deputy chief described the Catalan police operation on 1 October as ‘unprecedented’, and said he recalls ‘clashes’ and ‘incidents’ between Catalan police officers and voters on the day of the vote.

Molinero also confirmed what a colleague had told the court a day earlier, that the then-president Carles Puigdemont said he would declare independence if there was an ‘extreme situation’ or a ‘tragedy’ during the vote.

ALSO READ: The ‘Jordis’ can now appeal to EU Court of Human Rights

Referring to the Catalan police’s relationship with the government at the time, Molinero said that former interior minister Joaquim Forn, who is on trial, told the police leadership that he ‘would not meddle in the police operation during the October 1 referendum.’

Asked by Forn’s defence lawyer whether the former minister’s public remarks ahead of the independence referendum, in which he insisted the vote would go ahead, had ‘modified’ the actions of the Catalan police on 1 October, Molinero answered: ‘Not at all.’

Further testimonies

Also on Thursday, Spanish Guardia Civil officers told the Supreme Court of the violence they allegedly experienced from voters during the independence referendum.

Agents appeared as witnesses in the trial of the 12 Catalan politicians and activists, in the dock for their role in the independence bid.

ALSO READ: Right to defence being undermined, say lawyers

The police officers, who remain anonymous for legal reasons, took part in operations to dismantle the referendum logistics on the day of the vote, and testified about the ‘violent attitude’ of civilians towards them.

An officer claimed that ‘all people [at the polling station] had a violent attitude,’ and criticised the ‘passive’ behaviour of the Catalan police while their Spanish counterparts were being ‘attacked’. He claimed he didn’t attack any civilian during the operations, nor did he see any of his colleagues do similar.

Another Spanish Guardia Civil officer recounted the incident when he was punched in the mouth by a voter, and said: ‘They stole my helmet, I was kicked and scraped.’

In the afternoon session, more than a dozen more police officers were due to take the stand to give their accounts of what happened on 1 October 2017.

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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