New Spanish police searches over independence referendum

Officers enter Catalan Economy Department, Statistical Institute, Telecommunications and IT center and Mediapro firm

VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
19.06.2018 - 07:46
Actualització: 19.06.2018 - 09:46

Spanish police searched several sites in Catalonia on Tuesday morning in relation to the independence referendum held on October 1, 2017. Officers entered the Catalan Economy department headquarters, the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat), and the Telecommunications and IT center (CTTI). They also entered Mediapro firm, a large audiovisual business responsible of setting up the venue used as international press center in the run-up to the referendum and also during the vote. The center was the place where three Catalan ministers announced the referendum results on October 1.

At the Economy department, the search is only focused on the computer of Daniel Gimeno, the head of its technical section.

The Catalan Government has informes that two persons are being held, without giving more details on who they are or where they work.

The police operation was ordered by the local Barcelona court in charge of the case on the preparations for the referendum. So far, around 30 people are being investigated for their involvement in the referendum, including some public officials and heads of private firms. This is a different line of investigation from that into the involvement of the highest-ranking politicians (in the Spanish Supreme Court), or the one into the Catalan police leadership’s involvement (in Spain’s National Court). In all, more than 60 individuals are being investigated or prosecuted over their part in the referendum, along with a number of mayors.

Raids and jail

The local Barcelona court has ordered a number of raids and searches relating to the referendum in the past few months, including one at the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) on April 12, the day before the ousted Spanish government closed it down. The CTTI has also been the target of the investigation several times in the past few months. Yet, the police have also raided other sites, such as the office of the secretary of Citizenship and Public Information, and the headquarters of the ANC and Òmnium pro-independence organizations in January, with the latter again searched in March.

The leaders of both entities at the time of the vote were incarcerated eight months ago and are still in pre-trial jail. In fact, they were put behind bars following the first police operation against the referendum on September 20, 2017, which was ordered by the same court and which saw some 20 buildings raided and 15 people arrested, mostly Catalan officials. On that day, thousands of people took to the streets to protest the police operation, with the referendum just two weeks away. The ANC and Òmnium leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, led the protests and some days later were accused of sedition and jailed, where they remain awaiting trial.

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