Catalan police were to 'mediate' in closure of polling stations on October 1, official tells court
Former Mossos d'Esquadra information head says he warned government of potential "escalation of violence" on day of independence referendum
The former head of information of the Catalan police, Manuel Castellví, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that they obeyed the judicial orders to prevent the referendum from happening, and in order to comply with the law, they were given instructions to "mediate" with voters to close down the polling stations where they were rallying.
He also said that he warned the Catalan government of concerns about a potential "escalation of violence" on the day of the October 1 referendum.
Criticism of Catalan government
Giving testimony in the independence trial, Castellví also criticized the Catalan government for thinking that the October 1 referendum would be "like a normal election," and said he urged them to comply with court orders demanding the referendum be stopped.
However, the former police official said that the Catalan president at the time, Carles Puigdemont, insisted that the referendum would go ahead because there was a "mandate from the Catalan people" to do so.
Castellví's testimony came after Spanish officials had appeared in court in previous days, criticizing the Catalan police for not doing enough to stop the vote that had been declared illegal by the courts.
239 polling stations did not open
Yet, the former police official told the court that 239 polling stations in Catalonia did not open their doors on the day of the referendum thanks to the work done by the Catalan police in the days leading up to the vote.
"There were no riot police deployed"
Manuel Castellví · Catalan police former head of information
Castellví also said that the Catalan police were expecting a "non-violent climate" during the referendum, and that "11,000 Catalan police officers were working that day, 7,850 of whom were part of the [referendum] operation."
"There were no riot police deployed,” added Castellví, who explained that they were not available during the independence referendum due to “concerns" over demonstrations that had been called for later that day.
Asked about why the Catalan police did not close down more voting places before October 1, the former Mossos official said that "polling stations were only to be shut down ahead of the referendum if they were hosting activities related to the vote.”