Catalan police chief to be questioned for sedition

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Madrid, Oct 4 (IANS) A Spanish National Court judge on Wednesday called the head of the regional Catalan police and two pro-independence figureheads to give testimony in a probe into allegations of sedition.

National court judge Carmen Lamela called on Mossos d’Esquadra police force Major Josep Lluis Trapero and the presidents of two of Catalonia’s powerful pro-independence organisations — Jordi Sánchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Ciuxart of Omnium Cultural — to appear in court on Friday, judicial sources told Efe news.

The sedition probe was requested by state prosecutors following mass protests outside Catalonia’s regional Finance Ministry on September 20 as police raided the building in a bid to seize all material related to a banned referendum that went ahead on Sunday in defiance of Madrid’s legal action.

Officers from Spain’s militarised Civil Guard were besieged inside the Ministry building and three of their police vehicles parked outside were destroyed by demonstrators despite the presence of the Mossos d’Esquadra.

The judge requested a Civil Guard report on the events, including its six requests for backup lodged with the Mossos d’Esquadra, who allegedly gave scant evidence that the requests had been properly processed.

The Civil Guard reportedly told the Mossos d’Esquadra that the three vehicles parked outside the Ministry contained heavy weaponry and had the potential to drastically alter the situation.

Trapero and the Catalan police came under scrutiny during the referendum amid accusations of passivity.

Furthermore, the Civil Guard said that Sánchez and Ciuxtart coordinated the demonstration but failed to use their influence over the crowd to defuse the situation when it escalated.

In the early hours of the September 20 morning, a group of protestors attempted to push their way into the Ministry and Spanish police officers inside were only able to leave after 4 a.m., some six hours after their operation had drawn to a close.

Catalan officials went ahead with the referendum on October 1. Following efforts by the National Police to shut down polling stations and confiscate material, just over two million voters managed to cast their ballot.

Police actions caught international headlines, however, after clashes with protestors refusing to leave polling stations led to over 800 people sustaining injuries, the Catalan government said.

Regional president Carles Puigdemont announced that 92 per cent of voters opted for independence.

–IANS

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