Spain's interior ministry hasn't authorised the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police) to accompany president Quim Torra as bodyguards on his trip to Brussels today. Torra was taking part in an event with president Carles Puigdemont. This is the first time a Catalan president has been blocked from travelling with an official escort.
Torra and Puigdemont had originally been meant to hold the event in the European Parliament, but it was cancelled by officials citing "security concerns". Torra is also scheduled to meet with, among others, the president of Flanders and the speaker of the Flemish Parliament.
Article 42 of the 1986 Law on the Security Forces and Bodies establishes that the Mossos have to ask for state authorisation to act outside of Catalan territory in their role as bodyguards for public officials.
Without specific authorisation from the Spanish interior ministry, if officers were to accompany the president they would be doing so privately, without the official status of police agents.
Puigdemont's security in exile is handled by Mossos on holiday from their regular jobs after the Spanish ministry refused to authorise the usual protection of ex-presidents set out in the law.
A group of Mossos officers have denounced the situation on Twitter. Catalan government officials didn't comment on the reports.
El Ministerio del Interior dirigit pel PSOE ha desautoritzat que l’escorta del president Torra l'acompanyi, avui, a Bèlgica.— @Guilleries_mossos (@Guilleriesmoss1) 18 de febrero de 2019
És una represàlia per no donar suport als PGE?
Un altre incompliment de la llei per part dels autoanomenats ‘constitucionalistes’ !!! pic.twitter.com/WMDmr7K8nn