2017 police leadership acquittal becomes final after prosecutor rejects appeal

Josep Lluís Trapero had been accused of sedition for alleged collusion with Catalan government to make possible independence referendum

From left to right: César Puig, Pere Soler, Teresa Laplana, and Josep Lluís Trapero (by EFE)
From left to right: César Puig, Pere Soler, Teresa Laplana, and Josep Lluís Trapero (by EFE) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 28, 2020 10:44 AM

Spain's prosecutor will not appeal the not guilty sentence of the former Catalan police leadership for their role during 2017 referendum, including the former head of Mossos d'Esquadra Josep Lluís Trapero.

This means that his acquittal and that of three other former officials is now final and no further appeals are possible.

This was revealed on Wednesday morning, one week after Spain's National Court decided to reject all accusations made by the prosecutor, including sedition charges.

Trapero, as well as a former Catalan interior ministry official, Cèsar Puig, and the former director of the Catalan police, Pere Soler, had a proposed prison sentence of 10 years – the former superintendent Teresa Laplana was facing four years on the same charges.

Contrast to jailed politicians'sentence

As the head of Catalonia’s own police body at the time of the vote, Trapero was accused of being too lenient and taking insufficient steps to stop the vote. By contrast, Spanish police officers broke into polling stations to seize ballot boxes, leaving over a thousand people injured, according to figures from the health department.

Prosecutors had argued that the Mossos carried out "no legal action" to stop the vote and only "cynically pretended" to be complying with the courts. Sources from the prosecutor's office have confirmed to the Catalan News Agency that they will study the sentence to decide whether to appeal it. 

Yet, during his hearing, Trapero said he had tried to follow Spanish court orders, but that it was impossible for 7,800 officers dispatched throughout Catalonia to stop 2.3 million voters. “The three police forces [the Mossos, Spain’s Guardia Civil, and Spain’s National Police] did not have enough resources," he said.

Contrast to jailed leaders' sentence

The ruling comes in stark contrast to the verdict handed down by the Supreme Court a year ago convicting nine of Catalonia’s top pro-independence politicians and activists of sedition, with prison sentences ranging from 9 to 13 years for organizing the 2017 referendum deemed illegal by Spain.