All eyes on Supreme Court as Trapero takes the stand
Catalan police chief during 2017 referendum decides to give testimony despite no obligation to do so
One of the most highly anticipated witnesses in the trial of independence leaders takes the stand in the Supreme Court on Thursday - the Catalan police chief at the time of the referendum in 2017, Josep Lluís Trapero.
The head of the Mossos d'Esquadra police until the Spanish authorities suspended Catalonia's self-rule following the referendum, Trapero faces charges of rebellion (for which the prosecutor is calling for 11 years in prison) and will be tried in Spain's National Court.
That made his reaction to being summoned to testify in the Supreme Court uncertain, as his involvement in another case means he could have claimed his right not to declare, respond to all questions under cross-examination, or choose to answer only certain questions.
Yet, Trapero decided to respond to questions from all parties in the referendum case.
Trapero in the spotlight during trial
Trapero's name has already emerged on a number of occasions during the trial, in the testimonies of other witnesses, such as former Spanish government members like interior minister at the time, Juan Ignacio Zoido, as well as former Spanish police heads.
According to their version of events, the Mossos under Trapero's command deliberately did not do enough to prevent the referendum on October 1, 2017, which had been declared illegal by the courts, and they even accuse the Catalan police of "facilitating" the vote.
Yet, former top Catalan police officials, such as Manel Castellví and Emili Quevedo, have also given testimony in the trial, closing ranks in defence of Trapero and the Mossos, and even declaring that the former chief called on the Catalan government to call off the vote.
Trapero has an opportunity to explain his actions during the political crisis before he goes to trial in the National Court, the date for which still has to be announced.