On 1 October last year there were 27 police interventions at polling stations in the city. Three of the centres were privately owned schools and as a result fell outside the framework set out in the interlocutory of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which only made reference to public centres and buildings, as the City Council pointed out to the judge handling the case. The City Council is the only prosecuting party in the proceedings, providing support for local residents who denounced the police action.
The proceedings have led to the head of the operation by the Policia Nacional at the FEDAC Horta private school being charged. The officer is being investigated not only for the alleged aggressions committed, but also for having acted within presumably illegal parameters as the interlocutory by the TSJC gave the order to: “prevent, up until 1 October, the use of public buildings and premises, or those which offer any type of public service, from preparing the referendum to be held”.
The police chief will have to provide explanations and clarify if they were obeying orders or acting on their own initiative. Likewise, an explication will have to be given on who gave the orders to act, with officers pushing and even assaulting the people at the centre. The police operation left five people injured, three of whom legally denounced the action.
A total of five police officers have so far been accused over the police charges of 1 October, two of whom were in charge of operations.
Institutional support for victims
The text presented to the judge by municipal legal services following the events of 1 October highlight how what happened affected individual and collective rights which are protected by law. The legal services demanded clarification of the events, as well as an investigation into criminal responsibility deriving from the judicial enquiry.
Local residents affected by the police charges were able to get in touch with the Office for Non-Discrimination and provide information and audio-visual material as proof, ask for information and take part in group workshops.