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Catalan police urged government to call off referendum, says former official

Ex-head of planning and security tells Supreme Court of "concern" over "climate of tension" on day of independence referendum

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11 March 2019 12:47 PM

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ACN | Madrid

Catalan police officials tried to convince the government to call off the independence referendum on October 1, 2017, the official responsible for planning and security at the time of the vote, Emili Quevedo, told the Supreme Court on Monday morning.

Testifying in the trial of Catalan independence leaders, Quevedo said that the former head of the Catalan police, Josep Lluís Trapero, met with top government officials on two occasions "to persuade them not to hold the referendum."

According to Quevedo, there was "concern" among the Catalan police leadership over the "climate of tension and over security" on the day of the vote that had been ruled illegal by Spanish courts.

"We knew there'd be a lot of people and that there could be security problems in some potential confrontations between those for and against the referendum," he said.

  • "A law enforcement body cannot use its entire staff for only one operation"

    Emili Quevedo · Catalan police official in charge of planning and security in 2017

However, the former official said that the Catalan president at the time, Carles Puigdemont, refused to call off the referendum despite the requests by the Catalan police.

Police cannot use "entire staff" for one operation

Quevedo also countered suggestions that the Catalan police had not done enough to stop the vote: "A law enforcement body cannot use its entire staff for only one operation," he said.

According to Quevedo, on a normal election day, some 2,500 to 3,000 officers are deployed for the vote, but on October 1 some 7,800 officers were deployed.

"For the first time" in his police career, Quevedo added, some officers who never normally take part in operations were deployed for the October 1 vote.

The former official stressed that even if every Catalan police officer had been deployed for the referendum operation, it would not have prevented the vote from taking place.

"Unfortunately complying fully with the judicial orders (to stop the vote) was not possible – the maximum number of polling stations possible were closed down," said Quevedo.

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  • The Catalan police official Emili Quevedo, testifying before Spain's Supreme Court on March 11, 2019.

  • The Catalan police official Emili Quevedo, testifying before Spain's Supreme Court on March 11, 2019.

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