Preparations for the verdict of the Catalan referendum trial have begun, as the Spanish Interior Minister has started to move 800 Spanish Police and 700 paramilitary Guardia Civil officers to Catalonia. They will reinforce the daily presence of 3.300 police officers and 3.500 Guradia Civil officers in Catalonia, despite the fact that competences on public order and public security are mostly in the hands of Catalan police.
A verdict is expected either towards the end of this week or early next week, and if the provisional police response is anything to go by, the outcome of the verdict, particularly if the leaders are found guilty, Catalonia will once again be rife with protests.
According to Spanish National Police sources, so far 500 officers have been transferred to Catalonia from riot police units in Zaragoza, Valencia and Madrid, among other cities. Another group of officers arrived on Tuesday morning, and a gradual increase is expected in time for whenever the verdict is released.
Sources of the Spanish Interior Minister have said that bolstering police force in the area is being coordinated with Catalonia’s own police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, and it is normal protocol ahead of expected protests, and underline that the forces have been sent to ensure the provisional safety of the protests. The officers are believed to be staying in hotels on the Catalan coasts, and are currently carrying out tasks for building protection, but are primed for other jobs when needed.
Memories of 2017
Riot police officers from the paramilitary Guardia Civil have also been moved to Catalonia from Pontevedra, León, Madrid, Zaragoza, Sevilla and Valencia, according to some media outlets. The alleged goal is to have 700 members and another 800 from the National Police to operate in time for the verdict.
The transferral of police officers in preparation is something of a callback to 2017, when National Police underwent similar preparations, transferring thousands of police officers to Catalonia ahead of the 1-O referendum.
The Catalan interior minister, Miquel Buch, made reference to the “complexity” of the current situation, with a warning that it “could grow worse,” and reminded Catalan police officers of the need to be “ready to resolve any scenario” that might take place. Addressing a new intake of Mossos d’Esquadra officers on Tuesday, Buch appealed to their “professionalism” and spoke about their duty to protect “the free exercise of rights and freedoms” and to “guarantee public safety based on peaceful coexistence.”