Guardia Civil colonel questions 'effectiveness' of Catalan police to halt 2017 referendum
Testimony from top Spanish official in charge of operation to prevent illegal vote criticizes Mossos leadership in run-up to independence bid
The plan drawn up by the leadership of the Mossos d'Esquadra Catalan police to halt the independence referendum in 2017 lacked "effectiveness," according to the Guardia Civil colonel coordinating the operation to prevent the vote, Diego Pérez de los Cobos.
Testifying in the trial of former Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, and other high-ranking members of the Mossos leadership, Pérez de los Cobos also said they refused to change their plan, despite being ordered to do so by the chief prosecutor.
Trapero and other officials in charge of the Mossos at the time are charged with rebellion and sedition for helping the Carles Puigdemont government carry out a referendum on independence in October 2017 that had been declared illegal by the courts.
According to Pérez de los Cobos, the plan presented by the Mossos was designed more to police a large-scale lawful election and maintain public order than prevent an illegal referendum, and he described Trapero's attitude as "reluctant."
Instead of distributing 4,700 Catalan police officers at 2,300 polling stations, Pérez de los Cobos said the Mossos leadership should have "concentrated their actions" to improve their effectiveness in stopping the referendum from going ahead.
Mossos showed lack of "willingness" to stop vote
The colonel also said that he detected a lack of "willingness" and "collaboration" among the Catalan police leadership, and argued that if Trapero had told Puigdemont that "he would find the Mossos in the way," he might never have gone ahead with the vote.
In the run-up to the referendum, Trapero was always "putting a spanner in the works," said Pérez de los Cobos, who also said that on the day of the vote the Guardia Civil and National Police decided to act on their own when they saw the Mossos "weren't doing anything."
Pérez de los Cobos also testified in the trial of the Catalan independence leaders who were sentenced to hefty prison sentences by the Supreme Court in October. During the trial he was also highly critical of the Mossos leadership's handling of the police operation.