The head of the Catalan Mossos police force during the 2017 independence push, Josep Lluís Trapero, has been acquitted by Spain’s National Court. Despite being accused of sedition by the public prosecutor and facing a proposed prison sentence of 10 years, Trapero has been cleared of all charges.
With one discrepant vote from the president of the tribunal, Spain’s National Court judges in Madrid also acquitted a former Catalan interior ministry official, Cèsar Puig, the former director of the Catalan police, Pere Soler, as well as superintendent Teresa Laplana.
The ruling comes in stark contrast to the verdict handed down by Spain’s Supreme Court a year ago convicting Catalonia’s top pro-independence politicians and activists of sedition, with prison sentences ranging from 9 to 13 years for organizing the 2017 referendum deemed illegal by Spain.
How to stop 2.3 million voters
As the head of Catalonia’s own police body at the time of the vote, Trapero was accused of being too lenient and taking insufficient steps to stop the vote. By contrast, Spanish police officers broke into polling stations to seize ballot boxes, leaving over a thousand people injured.
Prosecutors had argued that the Mossos carried out “no legal action” to stop the vote and only “cynically pretended” to be complying with the courts. Yet, during his hearing, Trapero said he had tried to follow Spanish court orders, but that it was impossible for 7,800 officers dispatched throughout Catalonia to stop 2.3 million voters. “The three police forces [the Mossos, Spain’s Guardia Civil, and Spain’s National Police] did not have enough resources,” he said.