Editorial, 17 January 2022
The new agents of Catalan police Mossos and local police celebrate their graduation at the end of the act of delivery of diplomas at the Police School of Catalonia. SUSANNA SAEZ (EL PAÍS)
The changes in the Catalan police reveal political intention and willingness to stop investigations into corruption
The explanations given by the regional Minister of the Interior of Catalonia, Joan Ignasi Elena, from ERC and very close to Oriol Junqueras, about the changes in the leadership of the Catalan police have been insufficient, unsatisfactory and inaccurate. They have been above all because they intend to trivialize the dismissal of the Mossos d’Esquadra major, Josep Lluís Trapero, jealous of the autonomy of his profession in the face of pressures promoted from political power and impervious to those coming from both pro-independence and Spanish supporters. His dismissal today carries a naked political burden but he was on the government’s agenda from the very moment he was reinstated, just over a year ago, after being acquitted by the National High Court in the trial against the independence leaders. Neither Puigdemont nor Oriol Junqueras liked his statements in the trial about the operation designed to arrest both leaders, in the illegal storm of October 2017, if he received a judge’s order to that effect. Today it still has no assigned destination. Neither is the “generational change” that the regional minister argued in his appointments, nor does the “feminization” of the body go much further than incorporating a woman into the new leadership, the Command Rosa María Bosch. Together with her, her former director general, Commissioner Eduard Sallent, close to Junts, under the command of Josep Maria Estela as the new head of the Mossos, are rescued for the body’s management structure.
The immediate dismissal (just one day later) of the head of Criminal Investigation, Mayor Toni Rodríguez, multiplies suspicions about the political and judicial intent of the dismissals. Both Rodríguez and the sub-inspector of anti-corruption, Juan Manuel Lazo (who resigned after the dismissal of his superior), had to ask the TSJC for protection against the political pressures that hindered their investigations, and the court granted it. The dismissal of Trapero and Rodríguez has come when both had shielded sensitive investigations into corruption without agreeing to share with their political positions the progress in cases related to prominent figures of pro-independence nationalism. The various open, judicialized and secret cases affect the former minister Miquel Buch and the irregular hiring of a member of Puigdemont’s escort (under the direction of Eduard Sallent); Laura Borràs, current president of Parliament, and the splitting of contracts to a related collaborator when she was director of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes; and the president of the Diputación de Lleida, Joan Rañé, in relation to the collection of illegal commissions. Another more recently opened front affects the agreement of the Minister of the Interior with the CUP to exclude riot police from evictions, against Trapero’s professional criteria.
Regional Minister Joan Ignasi Elena will have to give explanations in parliament at the request of the opposition groups that have branded the dismissals a purge, starting with the leader of the majority party, Salvador Illa. Commissioners of the same police force have also done it. President Aragonès still has room to amend what clearly gives off the scent of purging and political interventionism aimed at defusing court cases for corruption against high-ranking pro-independence officials.