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Referendum raid protests created 'insurrectionary climate,' senior Spanish police official tells court

High-ranking officer behind Guardia Civil investigation report into independence bid calls Catalonia "a powder keg" in 2017

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26 March 2019 12:08 PM

by

ACN | Madrid

A senior Spanish police officer testifying in the trial of independence leaders said the protests surrounding raids to disrupt the upcoming referendum in 2017 created an "insurrectionary climate" after September 20.

A high-ranking official in the Guardia Civil, and the head of its judicial police in Catalonia at the time, Daniel Baena penned one of the most consequential reports for the investigation into the so-called independence case.

Baena said the investigation into the independence movement began in 2015, with the first court inquiry launched in March 2017. After the September 20 protests, Baena said a judge saw possible grounds for sedition offenses.

Despite complaints about his use of the expression from the defense, Baena insisted on referring to the peak of the independence bid (between September 19, 2017 and October 28, 2017) as an "insurrectionary period."

  • "The referendum was not their goal, but a cornerstone for a unilateral declaration of independence or to put the Spanish state in a situation of conflict"

    Daniel Baena · Guardia Civil officer

At that time, it was "unquestionable" that Catalonia had become "a powder keg," Baena told the court, adding: "We knew that any small conflict could escalate out of control."

"We found out that the referendum was not their goal, but a cornerstone for a unilateral declaration of independence or to put the Spanish state in a situation of conflict," Baena told the court, referring to material seized in police raids.

A Moleskine diary of the former vice president's second-in-command "ratified" the police inquiry's hypothesis, said Baena, who added that the diary said "the degree of conflict with the state had to be progressively increased."

"We investigated the development of devolved powers to create structures for a new state," said Baena, who added they also found how the government was preparing for independence, including issues related to ID, the tax office, borders, VAT and an "inventory of Spain's assets in Catalonia."

Initial reports 'not relevant', says judge

Courtroom president Manuel Marchena stressed that the original reports on the independence case penned by Baena didn't have "any relevance" for the current proceedings, as judges would only take into account defense teams' and prosecutors statements.

"Police investigated crimes, not ideas"

Asked by defense lawyers, the witness stressed that the Guardia Civil police didn't investigate politicians "for what they said or thought," but rather "for the crimes they might have committed."

Lawyer Andreu Van den Eynde, representing former vice president Oriol Junqueras and former minister Raül Romeva, asked Baena if any of his clients did ever incite people to use violence in all the messages he analyzed. "No, never," was Baena's response.

Baena denies being behind 'Tácito'

Baena denied being behind the Twitter user 'Tácito,' who repeatedly took on the pro-independence movement and criticized journalists, politicians and Catalan police officers. 

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  • Three Guardia Civil police high-ranking officials, including the head of judicial police in Catalonia, Daniel Baena (right), in 2016 (by Pol Solà)

  • Three Guardia Civil police high-ranking officials, including the head of judicial police in Catalonia, Daniel Baena (right), in 2016 (by Pol Solà)