Monday saw the start of the trial involving Major Josep Lluís Trapero, the former director of the Mossos Pere Soler, the former Secretary General of Catalonia’s Interior Ministry, César Puig and Inspector Teresa Laplana, at Spain’s National Court in Madrid.
Trapero, Soler and Puig stand accused of rebellion, while Laplana faces sedition charges. Trapero, Soler and Puig are looking at eleven years in prison, and Laplana four.
It is worth reminding ourselves of the events which led to these outrageous charges. On 20 September, outside the Ministry of the Economy’s headquarters, in the early hours of the morning, the Mossos [Catalan police] received a request from Spain’s Guardia Civil to provide backup at the Rambla Catalunya gate. The Mossos’ response was clear: "We’ll come, but if you’d warned us earlier we’d have been able to close off the street around the building. We could’ve established a security perimeter. Now, with crowds of people already in the area, what do you expect us to do?". What’s more, they had informed the Guardia Civil that the Rambla Catalunya building had an underground car park where they could leave their vehicles. However, they chose to leave them outside the front door, ostentatiously, unlocked and with weapons inside. The latter is a grave breach of a security protocol which is so basic that even those who did their military service had it drilled into them that you take your gun with you everywhere, including the toilet.
And what about 1 October 2017? The day the Mossos meticulously followed the court order calling on them to enforce the law (the independence referendum was not to go ahead) while maintaining normal peaceful coexistence. Not the police officers sent from all over Spain, stationed on a ship in the port of Barcelona, who unleashed a wave of violence against an unarmed civilian population who simply wished to vote, leading to images which were shown all over the world and which were so embarrassing that during the trial of the political prisoners neither Rajoy, Soraya, Zoido nor anyone else took responsibility. Does anyone remember? Soraya even claimed that they were watching it on TV, in La Moncloa [the seat of the Spanish government in Madrid].
The charges of rebellion, whether or not they get downgraded to sedition, when considered alongside the sentences the political prisoners received, are nothing more than the state’s revenge for the success of a referendum asking a question which was considered unaskable. As works of fiction, the reports by the Guardia Civil and the Prosecutor's Office sought to give the impression that the alleged acts of rebellion —a crime which requires the use of armed violence— had in fact taken place because 17,000 armed officers serve in the Catalan police force.
In the trial that has begun today we will once again hear evidence from Pérez de los Cobos and Baena [high-ranking Guardia Civil officers]. During the trial in the Supreme Court, the Mossos were targeted as being the accomplices of Puigdemont and his ministers, when it turns out that the Catalan police even had a plan to arrest the entire cabinet, including President Puigdemont.
In actual fact, the Mossos were caught in the middle, between a government organizing a referendum which had been suspended by the Constitutional Court, and a justice system acting as the right hand of the Let ‘em have it brigade, trying to be fair to all. It’s clear that the courts won’t be fair. As ARA has reported, the presiding judge of the court where Trapero stands trial is Concepción Espejel. I quote: "She was recused from the Gürtel trial because of her ties to the PP –she’s a close friend of [PP VP] Maria Dolores de Cospedal– and presided over the court which found the youths from Altsasu guilty". It’s plain to see that impartiality is guaranteed.
Without forgetting the events which are being judged in the current trial, the Mossos are seen as similar to Catalan schools and TV3: they’re a nuisance, or they’re viewed with suspicion, or they result in the Spanish government losing its influence [in Catalonia]. It’s been said before that Rajoy could have used the way the Mossos behaved during the terrorist attacks on Barcelona and Cambrils as an example of how well decentralized Spain works. On the contrary, in the hours after 17 August 2017, when the Spanish government found out that the Mossos were able to handle the security crisis, that they gained international respect following the attacks and that Spain’s Interior Ministry had no part to play, they were worried. When Major Trapero reported to Rajoy, Puigdemont and Soraya, the Spanish Vice President was stunned: they’d acted like the police force of an independent country. One of the Mossos’ high command remarked to a colleague on the way out: “One day they’ll make us pay for this”. That day has come.
Freedom for the political prisoners, for those on trial, for those in exile. A good day to us all.