Spain apologises for police action against Catalans demanding independence

The Spanish government on Friday apologised for the policing of last week’s independence referendum but said the regions political leaders were to blame for going ahead with the vote.

The comments from Enric Millo, the government’s most senior representative in Catalonia, were the first apology from a Spanish government official over the violence, the Guardian reported.

The Catalan government said hundreds of people were injured after Spanish police attempted to stop the vote by raiding polling stations, beating voters and firing rubber bullets at crowds.

Millo said in an interview with Catalonia’s TV3: “When I saw those images — and knowing that people were hit, shoved and one was even taken to hospital — all I can do is apologise on behalf of the officers who intervened.”

He said, however, that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his government were to blame for Sunday’s events as they had insisted on going ahead with the poll.

The apology came as the Catalan government said it would defy the Spanish constitutional court by going ahead with a parliamentary debate on the referendum result.

Catalonia’s Foreign Affairs minister Raül Romeva said the debate would go ahead regardless of the court’s decision. “Parliament will discuss, Parliament will meet… Every attempt the Spanish government has used to impede things to happen, they have been demonstrated completely not only useless but counter-productive,” Romeva told the BBC.

Meanwhile, Catalan chief of police Josep Lluis Trapero appeared before a judge in Madrid on suspicion of sedition against the state. His Mossos d’Esquadra force was accused of failing to protect Spanish police from protesters ahead of the October 1 independence referendum.

The “sedition” hearing took place in Madrid. The defendants were accused of failing to help Guardia Civil police tackle thousands of pro-independence protesters outside the Catalan Economy Department in Barcelona on September 20.

Along with Commander Trapero, another Catalan police officer and two leading independence activists were also being investigated.

They all left the court after the morning hearing free, without facing any Spanish restrictions. It was not yet clear what they told the judge.

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