Investigation into 'disproportionate' actions of Spanish police during referendum
Barcelona court to look into alleged incidents of aggression against voters by three officers on October 1
A Barcelona judge has begun an investigation into the actions of three Spanish police officers at a school used as a polling place for last year's referendum on October 1.
The judge considers the level of force used by the officers to be disproportionate. One of the officers is already under investigation for similar behavior in another school on the same day.
Videos and images show members of the public trying to stop officers entering the Pau Claris school, but once inside they are seen forcibly removing people from a stairwell.
The images show officers aggressively punching and kicking people as they attempt to get them to move outside. A woman, Marta T. is dragged down the stairs by one officer.
In his presentation, the judge points out that the police had already reached the area with the ballot boxes "and yet the woman was grabbed and dragged away by the officer anyway."
In a similar case, after initially resisting, a man and woman voluntarily begin to leave, and yet "completely unnecessarily" an officer pushes both of them down the stairs.
According to the judge, incidents took place that were "clearly disproportionate or even dangerous," not only for the people who were the subjects of the aggression, but for others further down the stairs.
Prosecutor's request dismissed
At the same time, the judge dismissed a prosecutor's request that Marta T. be charged for resisting the police, as he considers her to have just avoided being thrown down the steps.
The judge also pointed out that none of the videos or images show members of the public attacking police officers or committing "any remotely violent action."
After seeing video taken in the Mediterrània school, the judge noted that officers advanced on the people there without "exchanging any words" with them or providing any "warnings."
In this case, the judge noted that people were thrown to the ground, one with bleeding head wounds, while one officer continued to beat people who had already been evicted.
The human rights association Irídia called the investigation "a new step forward," while another group, Alerta Solidària, accused the prosecutor of trying to "block the judicial investigation into police violence against the public taking part in the referendum."