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Protesters tried to break into finance ministry during raids, says police officer

Guardia Civil officer witnessed demonstration that served as foundation for rebellion accusations in independence trial

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25 March 2019 03:01 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

“I saw how people wanted to break into the building. The gates were made of iron and wood, but they were collapsing. Police officers had to hold them up,” a Guardia Civil officer told the Supreme Court on Monday, while testifying in the trial of Catalan independence leaders.

The officer described the scenes outside the Catalan finance ministry, where police were conducting a raid to halt the preparations for the October 1 independence referendum, saying: "It was crazy to see people standing on police cars."

"At 10am I was at the entrance of the finance ministry. There was a crowd screaming, harassing, intimidating… They were on vehicles," the officer told the court, adding that there was"an objective and obvious risk" of protesters “attacking” Guardia Civil police officers.

  • "It was crazy to see people standing on police cars"

    Anonymous Guardia Civil officer

"Protesters threw a traffic cone at police officersthen we knew they had found a way to get into our cars," said the officer, who added that he warned his Catalan counterpart, Teresa Laplana, that there were weapons inside the police cars, but she did not seem "very concerned."

According to the witness, weapons inside police cars had "real ammunition," thus contradicting a previous testimony from a former head of the Guardia Civil, Ángel Gozalo, who said instead that they had non-lethal ammunition (such as rubber bullets) used by riot police.

The officer also referred to the role of Jordi Sànchez, a defendant and then-president of the Catalan National Assembly grassroots group, who presented himself as a spokesperson for the crowd protesting outside the finance ministry.

“It’s absurd that we had to manage security issues with the president of an organization,” said the witness, who explained that Teresa Laplana, a Catalan police high-ranking official, appeared to "follow orders" from the activist.

Roadmap for a Catalan republic

The officer also told of a document seized during the September raids including 176 measures on the creation of a Catalan state, and with finance official Lluís Salvadó and former government spokesperson Elsa Artadi with leading roles.

The document also mentioned the Catalan National Assembly, which was supposed to carry out protests in the aftermath of the October 1 referendum.

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