The mayors of Verges and Celrà and thirteen others arrested in Catalonia
Two mayors and nine CDR members, one of whom is also a member of La Forja and another a member of the students’ union SEPC, were arrested this morning in a National Police operation
In the afternoon, four more were detained: the journalist, Carles Palacio, two members of La Forja and one of SEPC
Spain’s National Police have launched yet another offensive against independentist politicians and activists, assisted by the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra.
This morning, the mayors of Verges, Ignasi Sabater, and Celrà, Daniel Cornellà, both of the CUP (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular – Popular Unity Candidacy) were detained, in addition to nine CDR members (Committees for the Defence of the Republic – Comitès de Defensa de la República), one of whom is also a member of La Forja (The Forge) and another a member of the SEPC students’ union (Sindicat d’Estudiants dels Països Catalans – Student Union of the Catalan Countries).
The police have confirmed that the arrests in Girona and other towns in the province were carried out for alleged public order offences in relation to the blockade of the high-speed railway line in Girona on 1 October, 2018, and in response to a complaint made by the railway admistrator, ADIF. They added that six more arrests had not been effected in the morning as officers had been unable to locate the accused. According to their lawyers, Benet Salellas and Montserrat Vinyet, all eleven exercised their right to remain silent. The TSJC, the High Court of Catalonia, the arrests were not ordered by a judge but an iniciative of the National Police intelligence unit in Girona.
Sabater was arrested by four hooded plainclothes officers early this morning as he left his house and a scuffle ensued between the police and his neighbours. The lawyer of the detained mayors, Benet Salellas, stated that the manner of detentions was “disproportionate” and would have been more understandable had the summonsed repeatedly failed to appear in court, which is not the case here. On his release, Sabater’s hand was bandaged due to an injury caused when he was handcuffed by officers.
The lawyers were unable to see their clients until 11.30 a.m. According to Salellas, the National Police would not allow him to see his clients unless he addressed them in Castilian, though Catalan is a co-official language in Catalonia. Despite this, the Spanish administration, in particular the National Police, have continued to persecute the use of Catalan, just as their predecessors, the Armed Police Corps (Cuerpo de Policía Armada y de Tráfico or ‘els grisos’ , ‘the greys’) did during Franco’s military dictatorship.
Last April, the mayor of Verges, Ignasi Sabater, was accused of a hate crime by the public prosecutor for implying that the Civil Guard were responsible for puncturing the tyres of more than 150 vehicles in Verges and neighbouring towns and villages on 2 and 3 October 2017. “By day they are in uniform and by night out of control. I believe it’s connected to what happened on 1 October when they tried to get into the town and we blocked them with tractors and cars”. After his comments, Sabater received a phone call threatening to slash his stomach. The town has also been subject to a spate of night-time attacks from far-right gangs.
In the afternoon, plainclothes National Police arrested the journalist, Carles Palacio. The arrest was witnessed by photojournalist, Jordi Borràs, who was leaving a bar with Palacio when the plainclothes officers arrested the collaborator on El Nacional and La Directa, bundled him into a car and drove off.
Three further arrests were made in the same operation: two further members of La Forja and another member of the students’ union, SEPC.
Since the 1 October referendum held in Catalonia in 2017 without the authorisation of the Spanish government, the number of people from all walks of life who have been arrested and charged with offences ranging from rebellion to obstruction has steadily climbed. The figure is now into the hundreds.