Trial of Catalan police leadership during 2017 independence bid set to begin
January 20 sees top former officials in the dock accused of colluding in secessionist push, with all eyes on former chief Trapero
You might be forgiven for thinking that the hefty jail terms handed to nine Catalan politicians and activists in October put an end to the high-profile trials of former officials that Spanish prosecutors hold responsible for the unilateral independence bid in 2017.
Yet, the judicial after effects of the October 1 independence referendum has, in some ways, only just got started, and next in the dock will be the top officials who at the time of the bid were in charge of the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police.
The trial of the former Catalan police leadership, which is accused of colluding in the attempts to bring about an independent Catalonia, begins on Monday January 20 in Spain's National Court, with all eyes on former police chief, Josep Lluis Trapero.
Trapero faces 11 years in prison
Trapero, who at the time was the highest ranking police officer in the country until he was removed from his post on October 28 after the government in Madrid imposed direct rule on Catalonia, is accused of rebellion and is facing a potential 11 years in prison.
The trial is expected to go on until March 19, and sitting in the dock alongside Trapero will be the former political heads of the Mossos police, Pere Soler and César Puig, as well as another high-ranking police officer, Teresa Laplana, who is charged with sedition.
While the other former officials are charged with rebellion, the public prosecutor has not ruled out lowering the charge to sedition, especially after the Supreme Court found the independence leaders guilty of sedition rather than rebellion in October.
Guardia Civil chief, the first witness
The witnesses testimony will begin on February 3, with Diego Pérez de los Cobos, the Guardia Civil colonel who oversaw the police operation for the October 1 referendum and who has accused the Mossos of defying the court order to prevent it.
However, the next day, Trapero's second in command at the time, Ferrán López, who was appointed by the Spanish government to take over from his former boss, will argue that the Mossos complied with the court order, and did so with the blessing of De los Cobos.
112 witnesses to testify
Some 112 witnesses will testify, including police officers, politicians and some of the independence leaders convicted in October. Yet, it is thought that former vice president Oriol Junqueras and former interior minister Joaquim Forn will not appear until the end of the trial.
Jailed former pro-independence activist, Jordi Sánchez, will also be summoned to give evidence, as will former Catalan president, Artur Mas, the former in the middle of proceedings and the latter towards the end.