Case 01

Joan Badia, Catalan mayor

A mayor was battered and thrown to the ground and later on accused of violent behaviour

The 66-year-old mayor of a small town, Callús (population 2.000) was assaulted by a Spanish Civil Guard policeman while he was talking to their commanding officer about the tense situation created by the Spanish police forces on the 1st of October Referendum. Later, he was summoned by the nearest court, on charges of having assaulted members of the police force.




Mr. Joan Badia, former mayor of the town of Callús (population 2.000) was assaulted by a Spanish “Guardia Civil” police officer while he was talking to their commanding officer about the tense situation created by the Spanish police forces during the 1st of October Catalan Referendum.

Mr. Joan Badia lodged a complaint with Catalan police against Guardia Civil (Spanish police) for assault, damages and theft (they took his laptop). Joan still doesn’t have the judicial response to his complaint, but a judge from Manresa decided to open an investigation on him and two other people of the region, accusing them of disobedience.

On 2 February 2018, the mayor appeared in Manresa Court No. 2 on a supposed disobedience offence to Guardia Civil. Around 200 people accompanied and supported him.

Finally, the investigation was dismissed because the prosecuting authorities didn’t find sufficient evidence to accuse Joan Badia and they explained that the version of the events was confusing.


Footage of the assault to Mr. Joan Badia


In a similar way to other mayors in small towns of Catalonia, Mr. Badia intended to take up a mediating role between the gatherings of citizens wanting to defend the polling stations during the 1st October 2017 Referendum and Spanish police agents. He was to encounter physical violence against him and later on a summons accusing him of disobedience, reminiscent of the similar treatment of two other mayors and a city hall councillor in his area.

Mr. Joan Badia during his intervention at the Catalan Trial (14/05/2019)

The outcome

In this case, Manresa’s Court No. 2 has settled that there is no reason to press formal charges against the mayor. Other similar cases related with the events that took place on October 1st remain to be settled, while the progress of the claim that Mr. Badia lodged against the Guardia Civil for assault is also uncertain.

Spain has not launched any investigation into searching for the true events that took place on October 1st. Therefore, people are lodging claims on a personal basis against the Guardia Civil and the National Police for their assaults against municipal authorities, old people and the citizens that were sitting in front of the schools (polling stations) in order to defend their right to vote. Each one of these claims depends on the settlement adopted by the corresponding court.

Catalan Voices: Over 700 Catalan mayors face govt prosecution over independence push

Spain: ‘Summoning a referendum is not a crime’ – Catalan mayors rally after arrest threat

Violated rights

The police violence against peaceful voters is an attack against the free exercise of the vote and the freedom of peaceful assembly (Art. 20.1 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arts. 21, 22 and 40 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, arts. 4 and 5(ix) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, art. 11 European Convention on Human Rights).

It has been a common practice that security forces submit counter criminal complaints when they learned that someone had denounced them for injuries, which denotes the weakness of this supposed rule of law.
 As of now, there are more than 700 catalan mayors prosecuted.


Most towns back referendum as court readies 1,000 warnings to mayors and oficials. Catalan News (in English) 

Prosecutor investigates 712 Catalan mayors for collaborating with referendum. Catalan News (in English)

Spain Catalonia: More than 700 mayors summoned to court. BBC (in English)

First appearances at prosecution offices of mayors charged with collaborating with referèndum. Catalan News (in English)

More than 700 Catalan mayors protest Spain’s backlash. Catalan News (in English)

Catalan town councils to sue over referendum violence. Catalan News (in English)

Political gathering held in Brussels to denounce ‘hunt’ of officials to be investigated by Spain. Catalan News (in English)

Prosecutor asks about involvement of mayors in independence referèndum. Catalan News (in English)

The judge  who investigated Joan Badia, forced to dismiss the case (in Catalan) 

The mayor of Callús says that the attackers have been identified thanks to cell phone videos (in Catalan)

People cheering the Mayor of Callús in front of the court (In Catalan):

The judge dismissed the charges of disobedience against the Mayor of Callús for the 1 October’s Referendum (In Catalan)

Joan Badia accuses the Guardia Civil agents of lying and refuses to testify before the judge (in Catalan)

‘What hurt the most are the lies’: Catalan mayors talk about referendum in Madrid act. Catalan News (in English)

Catalan mayors hold event in Madrid to denounce police violence on October 1. Catalan News (in English)

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