"We saw a carefully planned, military-style operation", Helena Catt world-renowned expert

The head of the seventeen foreign experts declared there were other irregularities, such as the custody of the ballot boxes, while ultimately concluding that "the process should be respected"

Helena Catt, head of the International Election Expert Research Team, concluded that "the results must be taken into account", despite certain irregularities, which were due to the "difficult circumstances" in which the 1-O vote was conducted. With respect to the use of violence by the police, Catt was unequivocal: "Yesterday we witnessed events that no election monitors ought to ever witness. We hope to never witness scenes of this nature ever again". Catt stated that she personally observed "numerous and repeated violations of civil and human rights."

Catt went on to say that "It was clear to us that it was centrally orchestrated, it was a carefully planned, military-style operation". Speaking for the group of experts she added: "We are stunned that armed, masked officers entered polling stations with the purposes of preventing a peaceful democratic process".

Preliminary report

Helena Catt explained that the team of 17 experts she headed —who were invited by Diplocat [The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, a public-private consortium set up by the Catalan government] a month ago— visited a hundred polling stations throughout Catalonia last Sunday. Whilst making it clear that although they cannot be considered a mission of international observers —as ARA explained earlier, this was not possible due to the position adopted by Spain— her team has decades of experience, having served as observers in more than 300 elections worldwide.

Catt revealed certain details from the final report, which is to be released at the end of this week. She stated that "In the face of external interference there were improvisations and last-minute changes to the voting process", which were not always consistent with the law governing the referendum.

Nevertheless, Catt stressed that everyone they saw working in the polling stations was doing so "in good faith" and that they saw "no sign of attempts to manipulate the vote". The team concluded that "across Catalonia, we noted persistence in the effort to vote, including a significant turnout, despite enormous obstacles and fear".