Read in Catalan

Changes at the top of Catalonia's Mossos d'Esquadra police force. The political leadership of the Catalan interior ministry, led by minister Joan Ignasi Elena and the police director general, Pere Ferrer, have today informed Josep Lluís Trapero, chief of the police corps, of his dismissal, as advanced this morning.

The police leader who became a Catalan hero for his management of the 2017 jihadi terrorist attacks on Catalonia, was then sacked by Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy following the 1st October referendum, facing and winning a trial for rebellion before being reinstated to his job in 2020, will now be replaced, after another political decision. The man chosen to lead the next phase for the Catalan police force is commissioner Josep Maria Estela, until now head of the Camp de Tarragona police region. He will be accompanied to the police prefecture by commissioner Eduard Sallent.

The Trapero file, open for months  

The Catalan interior ministry has been preparing this change for months, after the distancing between the director general of police and chief Trapero, who, according to department sources, was acting as a free agent. After months of consultations, Joan Ignasi Elena has taken action on one of the folders he has had before him from the moment he entered the job in May.

Josep Maria Estela / Mossos d'Esquadra

Josep Maria Estela, Mossos commissioner, will be the new head of the corps / Europa Press

Within the pro-independence Catalan coalition, it is ERC that now controls this ministry - taking over from Junts when the new Pere Aragonès executive was formed - and the party was clear in not wanting the future of the Mossos d'Esquadra to depend on the leadership of Josep Lluís Trapero, having already had doubts when Albert Batlle catapulted him to the role of chief of the Mossos d'Esquadra.

Eduard Sallent returns to the Prefecture

The new Prefecture which the interior ministry has now mapped out will have Estela, as the police commander of the body, but the new head will be accompanied to the Prefecture by commissioner Eduard Sallent - who was already head of the body - and by a superintendent, Rosa Maria Bosch, who up till now has led the commissariat of institutional relations, prevention and mediation for the Mossos d'Esquadra, and is close to Sallent.


Eduard Sallent ACN

Commissioner Eduard Sallent, in an archive image / ACN 

After restructuring the three main positions at the top of the Mossos hierarchy, changes are also planned in two other key roles places in the Catalan police organizational chart: the commissioner for central police coordination (CSUCOT) and the commissioner for territorial coordination (CSUCOC). As earlier advanced, these two positions will be occupied by commissioners Xavier Porcuna and David Boneta respectively.

Prefectura Mossos d'EsquadraNew Mossos d'Esquadra organizational chart / GRS 

The future of Trapero, an unknown

Among the doubts that remain to be resolved about this change at the top of the Mossos d'Esquadra prefecture is the role that Major Josep Lluís Trapero will play, now that he is no longer head of the police force. Although he will maintain his senior rank, he will not lead the Mossos, which opens the door for him to leave the body and look for work in a private company, a move which some sources have suggested. 

The minister Elena explained in a press conference this afternoon that he has put several options on the table to allow chief Trapero, to remain linked to the Mossos corps. Trapero has asked the ministry for a period of time to digest the dismissal, which he was officially informed of last week, so that he can inform the ministry after Christmas which of the offers, if any, he wants to accept.

Trapero's second period 

After a long career in police investigation, commissioner Trapero became head of the corps in 2013. In 2017 he was promoted to "chief" - the force's most senior position, which has not always been filled - and it was just after this that he gained public fame, in particular as spokesperson for the body after the terror attacks of August 17th, 2017, in Barcelona and Cambrils. Weeks later, he also led the force through the unprecedented challenges of the independence referendum period - from the October 1st referendum itself, to the declaration of independence on October 27th, which was not executed, and on the same day, the imposition of direct rule by the Spanish government. With that, came Trapero's removal from the police leadership role.

He was then charged with the crime of rebellion for being part of an alleged pro-independence plot, and went on trial in the National Audience court. But he was acquitted, after having explained, among other things, his plan to arrest the Catalan leadership if it had been required, as well as the operation that the force had prepared to arrest Carles Puigdemont in Parliament if he had made the declaration of independence effective.


Josep Lluís Trapero / Felip VI / David Zorrakino / EP

Chief Trapero greeting king Felipe VI, on a visit to Barcelona / David Zorrakino