Spanish colonel tells court the law had to come “before the public well-being” on referendum day
Official in charge of security operation during independence referendum criticizes Catalan police in Supreme Court
Complying with the law came “before the public well-being” during the October 1 independence referendum, Guardia Civil colonel, Diego Pérez de los Cobos, told the Supreme Court on Thursday. The official in charge of the police operation on that day also told the court that he asked the then president Carles Puigdemont to call off the referendum, as the “easiest way” to avoid disorder on the streets.
In his court appearance as part of the investigation into the Catalan government’s attempt to secede from Spain, De los Cobos was particularly critical of the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra. According to sources present in court, the colonel accused the Mossos of acting as a “focus of information” helping to dodge judicial orders so as to ensure that the referendum on independence took place.
In fact, De los Cobos claimed that the deployment of the Catalan police was insufficient, with only two officers sent to each of the 233 polling places. Citing figures from Spain’s home affairs ministry, De los Cobos said that 7,850 Catalan police officers were deployed on the day of the referendum (compared to 10,000 Spanish police officers), while some 11,565 Mossos officers were on duty to police the December 21 election.
While particularly critical of the Catalan police, the colonel praised the actions of the Spanish security forces drafted into Catalonia to police the referendum. De los Cobos also revealed details of the Security Board meeting called by president Puigdemont on September 28 to discuss the October 1 police operation. The colonel described it as a “tense” meeting in which the Catalan government representatives claimed that the well-being of two million people on the streets would make police action “impossible”.