Twenty-three year old Daniel Gallardo has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison by a Madrid court for an incident following the protests that took place in the Spanish capital over the verdicts against the Catalan pro-independence leaders in October 2019. In addition, he has been ordered to pay a fine of 600 euros and compensation of 3,500 euros to the city of Madrid.
The prosecution had called for a six-year prison sentence for offences of public disorder, assault on authority and causing grievous bodily harm.
Gallardo spent 13 months in jail on pretrial detention, from just after the events took place until he was released on bail by the judge on the last day of the trial, while awaiting the verdict. The court ruling can be appealed, suggesting that the accused will not be admitted to prison until all legal avenues have been exhausted. However, it cannot be ruled out that prosecutors will request immediate imprisonment.
Gallardo was charged with public disorder, assault on authority and grievous bodily harm. He was arrested on October 16th 2019, after the Madrid rally called to protest against the jailing for sedition of the nine Catalan pro-independence leaders. Gallardo asserted that he did not take part in the rally. He said that he was trying to protect a female friend from assault by police officers when police say he committed the assault for which he has been convicted.
The construction of a case
The accusation against Gallardo, said his defence team, was put together to criminalize the protest. They say there was no evidence of the action of which the police accused him. The police report says Gallardo hit a police officer's helmet with a piece of wood, which had nails in it. The defence denied this, as well as asserting that the young man was kept in pre-trial prison because of his second surname, Herczog, which is German.
"In the police charges that were made, they arrested three people, one of whom was a minor, but Dani was not detained at that point, but much later," saids Alejandra Matamoro, spokesperson for the Madrid Anti-Repression Movement, which has conducted Gallardo's defence. In fact, Dani was already returning home with his friends when they ran into the police, with the protest having finished. The riot police came at them and the group tried to run away as best they could. The police managed to catch Elsa, a friend of Dani's. "He realized that she was no longer following him, that she had been caught by the police and they were beating her. So he turned around and went to help her. That's when they arrested him and beat him too," said the spokesperson for the Anti-Repression group.
The main charge against Dani Gallardo was for allegedly assaulting a policeman with a piece of wood with rusty nails in it, taken from a pallet, which supposedly impacted on the police officer's helmet but did not fully pierce it. "That's not true. There is not even any real or consistent evidence," said Alejandra. The main evidence presented is a photograph of the helmet, which was duly leaked to the newspaper El Mundo to incriminate Dani. "The photo shows the helmet with the stick "nailed" to it, but at the police station. It is impossible that this would have stayed there during the transfer [from the street to the station]. It is not attached at any point," said the group's spokesperson. In addition, she pointed out, Dani is very thin, and would not even have had the strength to drive it into the police officer's helmet. "And even if he had managed to do so, he couldn't have made it impact so deeply that it would have stayed like that until it arrived at the police station and the picture was taken," she said.
The other evidence is the injury report for the policeman said to have suffered grievous bolidy harm. This report "does not even exist", according to Alejandra. "The policeman reported that he had a headache. The treatment they gave him was simply ibuprofen. That is the injury report,” she said. To top it all off, the report submitted by the officer was filed an hour before Dani Gallardo was arrested.
"The accusation was based, as always, on the word of the police, which in this country is enough to do or undo. What the police say is gospel", complained his defence team.