Former Catalan Police chief, charged with criminal organization and sedition

Josep Lluís Trapero, former leader of Catalan Police “Mossos d’Esquadra” / ACN


Josep Lluís Trapero was the head of the Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan police) from 2013 until 27th October 2017, when the Spanish government suspended him through an illegal application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which showed complete disregard for the autonomy of Catalonia.

Since October 2017, Trapero has been the subject of an investigation held at the National Court – the former Court of Public Order during the reign on Franco. He stands accused of rebellion, for his failure in preventing both the protest in front of the Economy Department on 20th September 2017 and also the self-determination referendum on 1st October 2017.

The trial at the National Court will begin on 20th January 2020. In this procedure, the ex-director of the Catalan police, Pere Soler – and the former Secretary General of the Interior Ministry, Cèsar Puig – will also stand accused of rebellion. Meanwhile, the intendant Teresa Laplana will stand trial accused of sedition. The trial is expected to end on 19 March 2020, consisting on about 25 sessions to be held in San Fernando de Henares, Madrid. 

The Prosecutor’s Office is requesting prison sentences of 11 years for Trapero, Soler and Puig,while calling for a similar sentence of 4 years for Laplana.

Spanish authorities accuse Catalan police of sedition (Al Jazeera)

“20-S” is a detailed reconstruction with the help of eye-witness accounts and people who took part in the events of what happened outside the Catalan Finance Ministry buildings in Barcelona and at the CUP party offices in Barcelona on the 20th September 2017.

Some of this cases are related with the acusations against Mr. Trapero.


Josep Lluís Trapero became famous through his careful handling of the jihadist terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in August 2017. Public opinion was found to be appreciative of his considered management in the days after the attacks, as the Mossos d’Esquadra established themselves as a competent and self-sufficient police force. To this day, some journalistic investigations question the abilities of the Spanish secret services, whom the leader of the attacks was confident of evading. 

A few days after the terrorist attacks, Trapero was cited in several meetings with the Superior Public Prosecutor of Catalonia and the other police forces (Guardia Civil and Policía Nacional) in order to organise attempts to prevent the Catalan referendum from being held.

On 20th September, Trapero was in charge of guaranteeing the maintenance of public order in front of the Department of the Economy, where thousands of people gathered throughout the day. They sought to protest against the judicial records of various Catalan institutions, that had the aim of seizing everything linked to the referendum. Although the judicial team was able to do its job safely and without incident, Trapero was charged with rebellion for not having dissolved – what was by all accounts – a peaceful protest.

On 1st October 2017, Trapero ordered the Mossos d’Esquadra to enforce the order of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, which prohibited the referendum from being held. Unlike the Guardia Civil and the Policia Nacional, and in accordance with the provisions of the judicial resolution, the Mossos d’Esquadra respected social harmony in their application of the order. The Mossos d’Esquadra still closed more polling stations than both the Guardia Civil and the Policia Nacional put together, yet they accomplished this without the use of police violence.

The outcome

For his role in the events of both the 20th September and the 1st October 2017, Trapero faces a possible 11 year prison sentence. As of 20th January 2020, along with 2 of his colleagues and the political chief of the Mossos d’Esquadra, Trapero will sit as a defendant in the National Court. Some of the defendants in this case have called into question the jurisdiction of the National Court.


Trapero also appeared as a witness in the proceedings of the Supreme Court, where the former members of the Government of the Generalitat of Catalonia stand trial. Among other things, Trapero stated that the Mossos d’Esquadra had devised a plan to arrest the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont.


Violated rights

The judicial process against the heads of the Mossos d’Esquadra is another example of how Spain rags the rule of law to punish and repress.

Trapero and his colleagues can not be guilty of a crime of rebellion because their conduct did not meet the requirements of article 472 of the Criminal Code: They neither rose “publicly and violently” nor pursued the objective of independence.

On the other hand, affirming that Trapero should have dissolved the September 20 protest is an attack on the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, protected by international law. The protest against the Department of Economy was an absolutely peaceful protest that allowed the work of the judicial committee.

In relation to 1 October, and although they did not cause situations of public disorder such as the Policia Nacional or the Guardia Civil, the Mossos d’Esquadra closed between 130 and 140 polling stations- the National Police and the Civil Guard only 60. All police forces violated the right to political participation and the right to self-determination, protected by article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


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