The 2017 independence referendum not only led to several trials against its organizers, but also to investigations into the officials in charge of the operation on the ground – not their superiors. On Thursday a local Barcelona court summoned eight police heads in for questioning over orders they gave to their subordinates at 27 polling stations in the Catalan capital.

According to human rights group Irídia, this is “a big change” compared to previous summons, because those were made for “specific actions that took place at specific polling stations.” The association’s lawyer Anaïs Franquesa said that this is “a great step towards clarifying liabilities.” For her, “those in charge of the operation on the ground at the 27 polling stations where there was police violence” will testify in court.

In February, a higher Barcelona regional court ordered an “in depth investigation” to discover the specific orders that were given by the officials in charge of the operation. The 2017 referendum crackdown left 1,066 people injured, according to the Catalan health service, of which 436 were in Barcelona and its metropolitan area.

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