Dani Gallardo: "They were beating Elsa up and my reaction was to get in the way, but I didn't hit anyone"

The imprisoned young man denies hitting an officer with a wooden stick

Dani Gallardo denies having hit an officer on the head with a wooden stick, which is precisely the main reason why the Public Prosecutor's Office is asking for a six-year prison sentence for the young man who has been imprisoned for more than a year because of his presence in the altercations that followed the Madrid demonstration in solidarity with condemned pro-independence leaders. "They were beating Elsa up and my reaction was to get in the way," Gallardo said, who explained that he was with his friend drinking some beers and smoking hashish quietly on some stairs in the Plaza de la Villa in Madrid.

Dani Gallardo, the activist ignored by the Spanish left

Gallardo and Elsa Vilkki have agreed to explain that they did not participate in the rallies, but instead found themselves caught between protesters and charging police. Out of "fear" they started running and the polie officers caught Vilkki. "They hit me with their batons on my legs and threw me to the ground. I asked for help and they stepped on my head with a boot," Vilkki told her lawyer, who had to ask about the time of the arrest twice because the prosecutor cut him off during his interrogation. "They suddenly stopped beating me, handcuffed me and when I got up I saw that they had arrested Dani too," she continued.

Gallardo said that he did not throw himself at the officers or hit them, but simply tried to get in the way. "My soul fell at my feet. I would rather be beaten than her," said Gallardo. He has also denied using a wooden stick, which the prosecution has introduced as evidence in the trial: when it was shown to him, he admitted that he was in the area but said he did not use it. Two girls who appeared as witnesses supported the thesis that the young man was not carrying a stick and that they were not with the group that came from the demonstration.

Gallardo and Vilkki are accused of public disorder - the young man is also charged with aggravated assault on authority with a dangerous object - despite the fact that they claim that they did not burn containers, set up barricades or throw objects at the police. This story has led the prosecutor to ask the defendant why the officers went after her, and she has suggested that it was an arbitrary decision. "I guess we were in a bad place at a bad time," she noted. The police officer who arrested her - with TIP number 113731 -, however, has given a completely different version: he assured that the defendants were indeed with the group of demonstrators causing damage and has denied having arrested the girl with violence.

"If it hadn't been for the helmet, he'd have killed him."

This officer and the one who supposedly went to help him have stressed that Gallardo did assault the first policeman. A first "brutal" blow to the back and a second "weaker" blow as he was turning around and getting up from the ground. "It could perfectly have killed him. If it hadn't been for the helmet, he'd have killed him," said the second police officer, who stood up to graphically represent the scene. "He hits him on the back of the head with a treacherous blow," he concluded, in an excess of appreciation that the judge reproached. Gallardo was shaking his head.

During the interrogation of the allegedly beaten officer, the lawyer of the accused asked for the helmet to be exhibited and the witness pointed out the two marks caused by the blows. the defence pointed out contradictions with the statement in the investigation, in which the officer asserted that the first blow received was to the shoulder. The ppolice officer claimed that this is due to a transcription error. The blow to the shoulder was received, he said, when he hit the ground. In fact, he said, it still hurts.

Antifascist clothing

In this trial, there is a third defendant, Javier Hormigos, for whom the prosecution is seeking two years in prison for assault on authority. The events attributed to him took place in another area of the city, near Congress, on the corner of Calle de Cruz and Calle Barcelona. The young man explained that he was on his way home when he came across the altercations and two plainclothes policemen with expandable batons that frightened him. He said he took a napkin holder from a bar and threw it at the agents because he thought they were "extremist" demonstrators who wanted to attack him. Throughout the interrogations, the Prosecutor's Office has taken an interest in the militancy of the accused and all of them have denied being part of any "anti-system" group. One of the agents who appeared described the "anti-fascist clothing" of the participants of the concentration: "Coloured hair and steel-toed boots".

The appearances planned for this first session took less than three hours, in an example of the speed with which the president of the tribunal, José Sierra, went through the declarations. On some occasions, he cut off questions from the defence as he considered that the explanations had already been made clear and has not allowed some details to be gone into in depth. The second session will be on November 17 with the presentation of an expert and the conclusions. A sentence is expected in December.

About 20 protesters in support of Dani Gallardo

The day at the gates of the Provincial Court of Madrid began with a gathering of about twenty demonstrators in support of Gallardo and Vilkki. The spokesperson of JxCat in Congress, Laura Borràs, the deputies of ERC Carolina Telechea and Dolors Bassa and the national secretary of the ANC Martí Claret also attended. All of them have denounced that "solidarity" with Catalan independence is being "repressed". Alejandro Garcia, spokesman for the Madrid Anti-Repressive Movement, the support group for the imprisoned young man, has criticised the fact that "the progressive government of the PSOE and Podemos has done nothing to free" Gallardo.

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