The decision of Spain's National Audience to acquit the chief of the Mossos d'Esquadra police, Josep Lluís Trapero, on charges of sedition and disobedience - and for whom the prosecution demanded the outrageous sentence of eleven years' imprisonment - is magnificent and partly unexpected news in the midst of the avalanche of convictions that continue to rain down in the general case against the Catalan independence movement. After three years hearing or reading day after day that the police leader was a "coup plotter" and a "secessionist" and a few other even worse things, that he was suspended from his job and salary, that his whole career was undermined for no reason, finally, the Spanish court that tried him has acquitted him by two judicial votes to one. The opposing vote was that of the presiding judge, Concepción Espejel, who in her dissenting opinion supported a prison sentence. Along with Trapero, the other four defendants in the case are also acquitted: Mossos superintendent, Teresa Laplana; former police director general, Pere Soler; and the former secretary general of the Catalan interior ministry, Cèsar Puig.
No one will compensate the Catalan police chief for stealing that time from him. An immaculate professional career was ruined by a judicial injustice and, it is worth remembering, by the disproportionate attitude of Civil Guard colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, appointed by the Mariano Rajoy government to coordinate the police response to the October 1st referendum. Rajoy’s failure to find the ballot boxes which he even went as far as saying did not exist, coupled with the violence unleashed by Spanish police and security forces on referendum day, led to international condemnation for the former Spanish PM and those responsible for the police operations. For that reason one thing had to be done: point the finger at Trapero as responsible, first accusing him of rebellion, then of sedition, and, in case the latter wouldn't stick either, a charge of disobedience was improvised during the trial. It was clearly an infamy, but a great many people jumped aboard this bandwagon, and today we must remember that, even if many don't want to hear it, or look the other way. Trapero's judicial journey during this time would have been different if the truth had been told from the outset and the official account had not been uncritically adopted.
Although the sentence is still open to appeal and, in addition, it can be expected that the public prosecutors will fight it first at the National Audience appeals chamber and then at the Supreme Court, it is a meritorious victory in an enormously difficult situation and facing the opposition of the presiding judge. The two justices who considered that there was no evidence to convict, Ramón Sáez and Francisco José Vieira, maintained a position that had been leaked several months ago and did not yield to other arguments.
Two unanswered questions: will the current Catalan interior minister, Miquel Samper, offer to restore Trapero to his office, even if it would be a slightly futile gesture because Trapero has already suffered enough to rule out a return? And what about the man who was Catalan interior minister at that time, Quim Forn, if, in the end, the entire fictitious narrative about the Mossos, the rebellion and the sedition have all come to naught?