Four years later, the judicial blows of the referendum of October 1, 2017 continue to occupy time in the courts. Not for the most institutional characters of the process, but for its most common cast. This Thursday a voter from Sant Andreu de la Barca (Barcelona) sat on the bench accused of attacking two civil guards. The State Attorney’s Office demands three years in prison, a penalty that the Prosecutor’s Office cuts by half.
It was the first trial against a voter arrested on October 1 for preventing police action. The most striking thing about the hearing has been the request for punishment from the State Attorney, which acts on behalf of the agents. The three years requested, if convicted, would imply the accused’s imprisonment. On the other hand, the Prosecutor’s Office, usually more forceful, has considered that the facts should be punished with 18 months in prison. The defense, exercised by the lawyer Àlex Solà, has claimed acquittal.
Only six were detained by the National Police and the Civil Guard on the day of the referendum. One of them has already agreed to a reduced sentence, which saved him the trial. As was proven in the case of the procés in the Supreme Court, the agents received orders not to make arrests unless a uniformed man was in danger. This happened, according to the accusations, in the health center of Sant Andreu de la Barca (Barcelona), the main barracks of the Civil Guard in Catalonia.
The evidence for the prosecution of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office are the Seville Civil Guard agents who acted in Sant Andreu de la Barca on the day of the referendum, who assured during the hearing that the accused tried to strangle a uniformed man by putting his elbow on him. on the neck and that another agent was bitten on the hand. “Thank God there are protective gloves,” said the State attorney, Beatriz Vizcaíno, to explain that the agent did not suffer any injury from the bite.
The asset of the defense is the video of the events that accompanies this information and that does not show the bite or the strangulation that the accusations attribute to the voter, but a struggle with an agent. The other voters who have testified also did not see any assault. In addition, the medical reports report injuries to the leg due to the fall on his helmet of an agent – as a result of the struggle with the accused, he maintains the defense – but not injuries compatible with a strangulation.
Agents and voters who have testified have shown just how opposite the versions can be in court. “He put his elbow in my neck trying to strangle me, and then he did the ‘lion kill’ me [una técnica de defensa personal] That left me knocked out, “said the sergeant who suffered the alleged assault. Four other agents have corroborated this version.” It was an unusual violence, “a uniformed man has maintained. The bite has only been corroborated by one agent, the rest they did not see it.
On the other hand, the five voters who have testified – three were with the accused and two observed the events from outside the school – have assured that the Civil Guard agents evicted “by pushing and without prior notice” the voting center, and that the injured officer fell back as a result of the struggle to try to remove the accused from the entrance of the school. “He was holding it very hard to get it out,” said a witness.
It will therefore be the veracity granted by the judge to each witness that determines the sentence of the case. The defense has recalled in this regard that this case began as two complaints of injuries between the sergeant and the now accused voter, which in their opinion could affect their credibility. The case against the Civil Guard is on file, although it is pending for the Barcelona Court to decide whether to reopen it.
Beyond the witnesses, in his final report the lawyer Solà has argued that the suspension of the referendum in no way prevented the right of assembly of the people in the centers, as the Barcelona Court has recalled in several resolutions, and that the judicial order to requisition ballot boxes “was not a mandate to enter the centers with blood and fire over and above fundamental rights.”
The accusations, on the other hand, have not hesitated to classify the events as a crime of attack on the agents of the authority and another minor one of injuries due to the “authentic aggression” that, in their opinion, the accused inflicted on the two guards with the aim of “undermine the principle of authority and their physical integrity.”