A SENIOR official with Cataluña’s Mossos d’Esquadra police force has told Spain’s Supreme Court that the former president of the region twice ignored his warnings over the 2017 independence referendum.
Emili Quevedo told the court he had asked Carles Puigdemont to not to hold the October 1 referendum due to a “climate of tension” in the region over independence.
Quevedo testifies a witness on Monday in the trial of 12 defendants charged in connection with the 2017 independence push.
The Mossos’ head of general security planning told the court Puigdemont said he had a mandate to call the referendum after voters gave independence parties a majority in 2015.
“Before the political initiatives in Cataluña there is no doubt that tensions could have been generated, or that conflict could have arisen between opposing groups,” Quevedo said.
“There was a need to protect certain people and institutions in particular,” the witness added.
Quevedo was also cross-examined over claims he had taken a lax approach to policing the referendum.
He said he was aware some Mossos officers may not have been willing or able to enforce a Constitutional Court order to prevent the vote due to their political views.
The police operation on the day was an “enormous” undertaking, Quevedo said.
Between 20,000 and 40,000 officers to close off polling stations and comply with Spanish prosecutors’ demands, he added. The trial continues.