Misc 10/09/2019

Another four Spanish officers indicted over riot police charges in Barcelona during 2017 independence vote

Up to 55 Spanish police, including eight senior officers, have been prosecuted as a result of their actions in the Catalan capital

Pau Esparch / Montse Riart
2 min

Up to 55 police, including eight officers, have been prosecuted over Spanish riot police baton-charging voters on 1 October 2017, the day of the referendum on independence. The figure has recently gone up following the decision by Barcelona Court 7 —which is probing police violence in the city on the day of the independence vote— to indict another four officers. City sources have explained to this newspaper that the judge has agreed to the local council’s request to prosecute four Spanish police officers who were involved in the violent incidents at the Víctor Català school in Nou Barris, which was used as a polling station for the referendum.

The City’s legal counsel has argued that video footage of the police charges at the Víctor Català school shows “beyond any doubt” that people had gathered inside the polling station “with a completely peaceful demeanour and were merely voicing their wish to vote”. The plaintiff has also suggested that the Spanish police officers might have committed assault and crimes against the moral integrity [of the victims], as “there was no need to twist their necks, kick them while they were lying on the floor, punch them in the face and use police batons on their upper-body”. The plaintiff’s statement notes that “it was a large group of well-equipped, tall, strong-looking police officers who could have simply removed the people gathered in a more respectful manner” and it also mentions that the behaviour of the police officers might constitute a crime against civil rights.

Summoned to court

Having watched the footage of the incident, the judge agreed to indict four Spanish police officers for the clashes at Víctor Català, but another two will not be charged as “the images do not show their individual actions with sufficient clarity”. The members of the public who lodged a complaint about the police charges have also been summoned to court so they can point themselves out in the video footage.

Earlier this year, Barcelona’s Hight Court insisted that a “global” investigation into the October 1st police charges in Barcelona was needed. The court ruled that the case being investigated by Court 7 should look into the orders issued by the leaders of the joint police operation and each of the sub-operations “to examine whether their actions constitute a crime or not”. A year ago the High Court ordered an investigation on each of the eight senior Spanish police officers who led the operation in Barcelona on October 1st 2017.