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Spain police operation against Catalan referendum cost €87M

Spanish Home Affairs minister says use of force was “minimal and proportionate”


18 January 2018 01:45 PM


ACN | Madrid

The police operation deployed by the Spanish government in Catalonia to stop the October 1 independence referendum cost €87M and involved up to 6,000 officers, according to the Spanish Home Affairs minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido.  

On Thursday, Zoido appeared before the Spanish Senate to account for the police charges on referendum day, which reportedly left 1,066 people injured, according to Catalan government figures. Zoido said the use of force was “minimal and proportionate.”

In the Spanish chapter of the 2018 world review, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that “the vote was marred by excessive use of force by Civil Guard and national police officers”.

  • “The ones responsible are those who behaved illegally and fostered tension”

    Juan Ignacio Zoido · Spanish Home Affairs minister

Zoido lamented that people were hurt during the operation, but ruled out holding Spanish police bodies responsible for the violence. “The ones responsible are those who behaved illegally and fostered tension,” he said, and added that “the [Catalan] government broke the law, ignored court rulings and caused rebellion in the streets to simulate democratic legitimacy.”

In a harsh criticism of Catalonia’s own law enforcement agency, the Mossos d’Esquadra, Zoido accused the police force of being “absolutely passive” and not collaborating with police forces controlled by the Spanish government.

UN demands "impartial investigation"

As recalled by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Spain to ensure “thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into all acts of violence.”

On October 2, the Catalan government created a special committee to investigate “the violation of fundamental rights in Catalonia”. Last Tuesday, the Spanish Constitutional Court accepted an allegation presented by the Spanish government against the committee on Tuesday, thus automatically suspending it until a final decision is made.

The Catalan government, now directly controlled from Madrid, will not be able to respond to the Court’s request for information until a new executive is formed. The direct rule dates back to October 27, when the Spanish Senate authorized the president Mariano Rajoy to impose direct rule in Catalonia and dismiss all Catalan ministers.

According to Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, deposed by the Spanish government and currently in Brussels, the committee's aim was to “confirm the violation of rights,” as well as “recognize the victims of police brutality.”