CARLOTA GUINDAL, MADRID 21/10/2020
The Criminal Chamber of the National Court has acquitted the major of Catalan police Mossos d’Esquadra Josep Lluis Trapero, and the rest of the dome of the autonomous police who had been accused of being part of the plan for the independence of Catalonia, specifically facilitating the referendum of October 1, 2017 and the mobilizations on September 20 the Ministry of Economy , and so they faced sentences of up to 10 years in prison.
The ruling considers that the operatives of the Mossos avoided “serious damage” and supports the use of mediation against the use of force before citizens in many cases “helpless”. In addition, it makes an evening critical of the operation followed by state security forces and warns that the police chief should not set as the sole purpose of his action to prevent the referendum at all costs. “If this caused irreparable damage, they could not only blame it for their production, but, from a professional point of view, their management would have been a failure,” the text says.
In a judgment, with a particular vote by President Concepción Espejel in favour of the conviction for the sedition of Trapero and Soler, Judges Ramón Saéz and Francisco Vieira consider that it has not been established that the defendants “would have tried to prevent or hinder compliance with the resolutions of the Constitutional Court, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia or the Higher Prosecutor’s Office of the autonomous community” or that they had agreed with those leading the independent process. or that they would have supported their actions by fostering the passivity of the autonomic police.
The resolution explains that there is no incriminating element that reveals an agreement between the accused “to become an instrument of the independence process and to put the police apparatus under the Generalitat at their service”. They also rule out any collusion between the defendants and those convicted by the Supreme Court for sedition, including the former vice-president of the Generalitat Oriol Junqueras.
The judgment contends that there are numerous counter-reports that exist to demonstrate that the work of the Mossos in that autumn of 2017 was not intended to facilitate the independence process. In this regard, he explains that the defendants did not communicate with the political and social leaders of the call for the referendum and the mobilizations at that time. In fact, it takes into account that the Prefecture of Mossos d’Esquadra, with Trapero at the front, publicly re-approved on September 23th the statements of the conseller of Interior, then Joaquim Forn, on whom they depended organically, affirming his commitment to the law and the decisions of the judges.
The judges of the Court also point out as counter-orders that on two occasions, on September 26 and 28, Trapero met with the then President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, to ask him to call the referendum, as well as for the eldest to demonstrate again, this time at the Security Board on 28 September, the President and Forn , and in the presence of the Secretary of State of the Interior at the time, José Antonio Nieto, that the Mossos would comply with the law and the judges’ resolutions.
In the same line, the Chamber argues that the chief defendant, Trapero, continued to speak after October 1st, at a meeting with the command of the corps on the 13th, that the police should act under criteria of political neutrality, impartiality and professionalism, executing the decisions of judges and prosecutors.
Plan to stop Puigdemont
Among the evidence with which the Chamber has counted to support Trapero’s acquittal was the version offered by Trapero that he had prepared a plan with other commissioners of the body for the detention of charges and political representatives on the day of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, in anticipation of the decision of the judicial authority.
They also add that on several occasions, during the period under review, regional police officers intervened effectively and forcefully against mobilizations aimed at holding the referendum, “as is paradigmatic, because of its importance, support for the judicial commission on September 19 of Unipost’s headquarters, the result of which prevented the formal establishment of polling stations”.
“He avoided serious damage”
For the court, Trapero’s performance as police chief on 20 September at the Ministry of Economy and Vice-Presidency “was not in collaboration with the independentist group, but faced the situation in a way that prevented serious harm.” It is proven that he tried to comply with the court ruling by which a judge had ordered the Guardia Civil to register the headquarters of the Ministry to obtain documentation on the organization of the 1-O, just as he had previously done with the orders issued by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
In the case of Teresa Laplana, responsible for the operation that day, she explains that she lacked command over the public policy units and her role was to serve as a means of communication and liaison of the command of Mossos d’Esquadra with the units present at the headquarters of Vice-President and, above all, with the judicial commission.
The Chamber concludes that the accusatory hypothesis (that it repeatedly and intentionally denied the provision of the aid claimed) “lacks evidentiary support”. Similarly, the Court considers that co-co-enters Soler and Puig did not have a performance in the police device of those two days.
Mediation in the face of violence
The ruling states that the police method of mediation was “revealed” in the September 20 register before the use of force. “The backlash against citizens who did not manifest special aggression was avoided from the outing, he explains, “it was avoided from the outing; when there was a certain risk of weapon abduction in Guardia Civil’s vehicles, discreet action by officers intensified; all the possibilities of mediation with which they stood as leaders of the protest were exhausted, even if they were the main representatives of independence, but especially apt for it to convince the crowd gathered; he did not give in to the pressures of these pro-independence leaders.”
The Chamber argues that this enabled the Guardia Civil to carry out the registration, even if the components of the commission “unjustly suffered” the retention inside the building by being surrounded by the crowd, as is the case with the judicial secretary. Finally, when the performance of violent groups at the beginning of the night changed the peaceful scenario, Mossos d’Esquadra’s law enforcement effectively intervened.
“Minimize damage” on O-1
The Court considers that the action of the Mossos, led by Trapero the O-1 was intended to “minimize damage” even if this meant in the end the holding of the illegal referendum. “You can’t be snruffy about this,” the sentence adds.
“Indeed, the accused was obliged to do everything in his power to fulfil the mandates of the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor’s Office and the teaching instructor of the High Court of Justice. But, in the weighting of the interests at stake (integrity of people, disruption of public order, compliance with the injunction), the police chief should not set as the sole purpose of his action to prevent the referendum at all costs. If this caused irreparable damage, not only could they blame it for its production, but, from a professional point of view, its management would have been a failure. Under this prism, the repeated mention of the principles of proportionality, congruence and opportunity can be understood.”
In this context, the Chamber adds, it was reasonable that “the need to abide by them” should be highlighted in that situation. In fact, these principles were observed by state law enforcement when they “had to give up” in many of the public policy interventions on October 1st in the face of the nature and condition of persons in polling stations, “apart from being contemplated in the Instruction of the Secretary of State for Security”.