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Former Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero acquitted

Josep Lluís Trapero, the former head of the Catalan police (the Mossos d’Esquadra) has been found not guilty of sedition and disobedience by Spain’s National Court. The trial had commenced on Monday 20 January and prosecutors had sought 10 years for the former Mossos chief.

Three other Catalan officials who were also on trial alongside Trapero – the former Mossos director Pere Soler, former general secretary of the Catalan interior ministry César Puig, and former Mossos superintendent Teresa Laplana – have also been acquitted.

Josep Lluís Trapero (centre), former chief of the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, arriving at the High Court in Madrid on 16 October 2017. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP)

Trapero, Soler, Puig and Laplana had been accused of aiding the Catalan independence bid because of a lack of police action in preventing the 1 October 2017 referendum, as well as their handling of the protests during Spanish police raids in Barcelona on 20 September 2017.

The Mossos d’Esquadra, led by Trapero, had been criticised for being too lenient and taking insufficient measures to stop the voting taking place in October 2017.

In contrast, the Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil agents broke into polling stations to confiscate ballot boxes, leaving over a thousand citizens injured, according to figures released at the time by the Catalan health authorities.

In court, Trapero had said he had tried to follow Spanish court orders to prevent the voting, but that it was impossible for 7,800 Mossos officers dispatched throughout Catalonia to stop 2.3 million voters. He even said that, ‘the three police forces [Mossos, Guardia Civil and National Police] did not have enough resources’.

Guardia Civil agents break the door of a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis, where former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was due to vote, on 1 October 2017. The referendum on independence was banned by Madrid. (Lluis Gene / AFP)

Trapero was the highest ranking police officer in Catalonia until he was removed from his post on 28 October 2017, after the Spanish government under Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia under Article 155.

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