Spanish police were 'violently attacked' during raid at CUP HQ, officer tells court

Information unit head in 2017 describes police conduct on instructions of public prosecutor as “meticulously measured"

Protesters at the CUP party HQ on September 20, 2017 (photo courtesy of CUP)
Protesters at the CUP party HQ on September 20, 2017 (photo courtesy of CUP) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

April 2, 2019 12:52 PM

Protesters "violently attacked" police carrying out a raid on the far-left CUP party HQ on September 20, 2017, the head of the information unit of the Spanish police in Catalonia during the independence bid told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

On day 25 of the trial of Catalan independence leaders, the first witness to testify said that Spanish police were called to the CUP party HQ on the day at the request of the public prosecutor, after "propaganda" for the October 1 referendum had been detected there.

According to the officer's testimony, the conduct of the Spanish police was “meticulously measured" but after the initially "festive" protest became aggressive, Spanish police were "surrounded" and forced to fire "blank shots in order to get out.”

During and after October 1 referendum

The officer said "72 Spanish police officers were injured" during the operation to stop the referendum on October 1, 2017, and he accused the Catalan police of being “passive," and even “hindering" their work, although he also admitted "there are great professionals.”

The officer also spoke of “harassment" by protesters at the hotels where his colleagues were staying, describing them as "serious incidents,” and he added that a Spanish police officer was hit over the head with a referendum ballot box.

Referring to the days after the vote, the officer described as a "general riot" a major protest on October 3, 2017, called to condemn police violence during the referendum: “We were besieged by 15,000 people with a clear intimidatory aim,” he added.

Coordination between police

Referring to the coordination between the Spanish and Catalan police, the witness said Spanish police were expected to “support" the Catalan police during the operation to stop the independence referendum, only intervening at the latter’s request.

Yet, he told the court that the Catalan police spied on their Spanish counterparts during the independence referendum, warning voters ahead of their arrival, and described a “growing climate of distrust” towards the Mossos d’Esquadra Catalan police.