Pedro Rubira, a prosecutor in Spain’s National Court, has cast doubt on the “impartiality and serenity” of Catalan judges in trying former police chief Josep Lluís Trapero and other officials accused of contributing to the independence referendum in 2017.

The prosecutor’s comments, made during a hearing on Tuesday to decide whether the National Court was fit to handle the case, were later rectified by the court’s head prosecutor, who expressed “confidence in Catalan judges.”

Spain’s High Court in Catalonia (TSJC) criticised the prosecutor’s words and called them a “very serious” attack on the judiciary and the constitution, as well as being “extremely reckless.”

Former police leadership charged with rebellion

Police chief Trapero, former interior ministry officials, Cèsar Puig and Pere Soler, as well as former police head, Teresa Laplana, are accused of putting the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, “at the service of the plans for independence.” The prosecutor is calling for a prison sentence of 11 years for Trapero, Soler and Puig, who are charged with rebellion, and four years for Laplana, who is charged with sedition.

Tuesday’s pretrial hearing was demanded by Puig’s defense, who argues that the former officials should be tried in Spain’s High Court in Catalonia. While the National Court is handling the case of Catalan police officers and interior ministry officials, top pro-independence politicians and activists will be tried in Spain’s Supreme Court.