CATALAN POLITICAL PRISONERS ON TRIAL

Former Spanish Police officer who voted in Catalan indy referendum blames Spanish police for "failing to seek an alternative solution"

A voter calls the decision to obstruct the police in their efforts to seize ballot boxes "a gesture of collective civil disobedience"

The forty-second day of the trial of the independence process brought us the testimony of more referendum voters, speaking for the defence of Jordi Sànchez, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull. One such was Nemesio Fuentes, a retired Spanish Police officer who volunteered at a school used as a polling station in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada (Bages), one of the spots where the Guardia Civil used force. According to Fuentes, "They attacked the crowd to get to the door, injuring two of my children", before going on to describe how a Guardia Civil officer smashed open the school’s door with a hammer. "If they’d asked, they could’ve just opened it, as it wasn’t locked". Fuentes accused the Guardia Civil of failing to make any attempt to mediate with members of the public present at the polling station.

In answer to questions put to him by the defence lawyer, Judith Gené, Fuentes replied that "at no time did the Guardia Civil make the slightest attempt to talk to anyone to see if there was any other solution". The former police officer also mentioned the injured officer who gave evidence before the Supreme Court a few weeks ago and accused a voter of having thrown a chair at them. Fuentes declared that the Guardia Civil officer had "fallen over of his own accord" after having slipped on the broken glass from the door and that the chair got knocked over.

The former Spanish police officer’s testimony regarding the Guardia Civil’s actions on 1 October was in stark contrast to the accounts from the rest of the witnesses who were present on that day, all of which voted at polling stations which were not visited by the Spanish police and Guardia Civil. Only the Mossos d'Esquadra showed up. They were able to enter some polling stations after speaking to the public gathered outside, while at others they gave up due to the large number of people outside. According to Antoni Altaió, a member of the public who spoke all day to Catalan police officers assigned to a polling station in Caldes de Montbui, "We said that considering the High Court of Justice of Catalonia’s ruling which established that they had to maintain the peace at all costs, both the Mossos and the voters appreciated the fact that it was best not to create a situation that was uncomfortable for both sides".

Altaió admitted that the reason behind the voters’ willingness to gather at the polling places on 1 October was "to peacefully obstruct" the Spanish Police, the Guardia Civil and the Mossos d'Esquadra’s attempts to seize ballot boxes and ballot papers, calling it a "gesture of collective civil disobedience". The testimony of another voter, Carme Baqué, served to demonstrate to the court that the Mossos d'Esquadra had obeyed the order to prevent the vote from going ahead. Baqué told the court that in the Seva school where she voted, five vans belonging to the Mossos appeared and confiscated the election material.

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