Independence trial week 4 – who ordered the referendum crackdown?
Spanish security officials, former members of Catalan parliament bureau and legal secretary of September 20 raids all set to testify
The Spanish police crackdown on the referendum and the people in charge of that operation are not officially being scrutinized at the independence trial.
Yet the violence displayed by the officers is playing a key role in the proceedings.
Week 4 of the independence trial will very much revolve around that police operation.
On Monday morning, the hearings resumed with the testimony of the former Spanish secretary of state for security, José Antonio Nieto.
Later on in the morning, the former official in charge of the Catalan home affairs department during the period of direct rule, Juan Antonio Puigserver, will also give testimony.
On Tuesday, the head of the police operation on the referendum day, Diego Pérez de los Cobos, and other high-ranking officers will take the stand, such as Sebastián Trapote, the head of Spain's National Police.
Why is the crackdown on referendum important in the trial?
While Spain's officials say that their police used force to stop the vote due to the inaction of the Catalan police – following orders, they say, from the Catalan home affairs minister, himself accused of rebellion in the case – the defendants state that the police violence was "disproportionate" and ineffectual, as it was unable to stop the vote.
The accused political leaders also say that the judges had not ordered law enforcement to charge at voters, only to close down polling stations.
They also claim that the Catalan police closed down 297 locations where ballots were cast, while the Spanish officers closed down 106 out of 2,272 polling stations, including raids at most of those where Catalan officials were expected to vote.
The prosecutor says the Spanish police's operation is only due to the Catalan leaders, who went ahead with the referendum although it was banned by the judiciary.
Meanwhile according to the accused, the crackdown did not aim to stop the vote, but to "repress" voters.
Other highlights of the week
The crackdown of October 1, 2017 will not be the only topic under discussion this week.
The role of the parliament bureau in accepting debates and votes on independence during this period will also be in the spotlight.
On Monday, in the morning session, the current speaker, Roger Torrent, will speak as witness.
In the afternoon, the unionist members of the bureau in 2017 and the chamber lawyers will face the cross-examinations of prosecutors and defenses.
Key witness over September 20, 2017 rallies
On Wednesday, one of the longest-awaited testimonies will take place: that of the legal secretary who took part in the September 20, 2017 raids of Catalan public buildings.
Reportedly she refused to leave a public building for fear of the thousands of people who were rallying outside the building for over 15 hours.
Two activists, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, are charged with rebellion for having called those rallies, and are facing 17-year prison sentences.