Former interior minister denies hiring covert police escort for Puigdemont

Miquel Buch testifies in court that officer advised ministry in everything, even remotely

Former interior minister Miquel Buch giving his testimony during a trial at Catalonia's High Court
Former interior minister Miquel Buch giving his testimony during a trial at Catalonia's High Court / ACN

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

July 14, 2023 10:34 AM

The former Catalan interior minister, Miquel Buch, denied hiring a Mossos d'Esquadra police as an advisor and covertly police escorting former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont during his time in Belgium.

Buch testified on Thursday in a trial against him, as he is accused of misuse of public funds for arranging the security services for the former president in Belgium. 

Also on trial is Lluís Escolà, the Catalan police agent who accompanied Puigdemont in Belgium

The former minister said that Escolà advised the ministry in everything that was asked of him between August 2018 and March 2019, even remotely.

On a similar note, Escolà testified in court that he was not part of Puigdemont's police escort because he did not have good physical condition nor the equipment to do so.

The ex-president who led the 2017 independence referendum also assured during his testimony via video link that all the police officers who accompanied him to Belgium were not on official duty at the time and did not act as a police escort since they did not carry a weapon, baton, bulletproof vest, nor did they have authorization to do so. 

Prosecutors are calling for the pro-independence politician to be given a six-year prison sentence as well as 25 years disqualification from holding public office. 

As the politician who once oversaw Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police force, Buch is accused of fraudulently employing the agent Lluís Escolà as an adviser when, allegedly, he was serving as Puigdemont’s bodyguard abroad. 

Prosecutors also requested 4.5 years in prison for Escolà and the return of the €52,712 allegedly paid for his services.