The former head of the Guardia Civil and the "pre-war language" in the schools on 1-OÁngel Gozalo narrates in the Supreme Court a very similar story to the one offered by the former head of the Policía Nacional, who testified before him
Josep Maria Camps/ Irene Vaqué
The former head of the Guardia Civil in Catalonia, Ángel Gozalo, this Thursday before the Supreme Court
The second witness this Thursday in the Catalan independence trial at the Supreme Court was Ángel Gozalo, who, at the time of the events, was General in Chief of the Guardia Civil in Catalonia.
Two months after the 1-O, the Ministry of Defense promoted him to Lieutenant General, the highest rank of the armed institute. After having served for the Guardia Civil in Catalonia since 2011, Gozalo moved to central services in Madrid.
Highly expected witnesses
The declaration of Gozalo and also that of Sebastián Trapote, former head of the Policía Nacional in Catalonia during October 1, became much more relevant when political superiors stated that the police operation was based on technical decisions.
Rajoy assured that he had not made decisions in this regard, Saenz de Santamaría said that she was not in charge of designing police operations, and Zoido argued that decisions were taken by the police operatives themselves.
His Secretary of State for Security, José Antonio Nieto, admitted that he had decided to send 6,000 agents to Catalonia, but both he and the coordinator, Diego Pérez de los Cobos, denied having given a withdrawal order during October 1.
The "complementarity" of judicial and governmental orders
The declaration of Gozalo started at 1:20 PM with the interrogation of General Attorney Fidel Cadena.
To his questions, the witness explained that on September 29, 2017, two days before October 1, the Secretary of State for Security delivered an instruction to them "complementing" the judicial instructions:
"It was as an addition to the instructions of the General Attorney and the interlocutory, from the point of view of operational and technical development and, logically, it marked, on the one hand, that the priority was the fulfillment of the mandate of the judicial authority, as it can not to be otherwise, making it compatible with achieving civil coexistence."
In this sense, and just as his counterpart in the Policía Nacional did this thursday, Sebastian Trapote also said that the instructions of the General Attorney's Office forcing to seal schools, were still valid:
"We consider that the instructions of the Prosecutor's Office were maintained, despite the interlocutory of the magistrate."
The "disagreement" of Trapero
The witness also concurred with Trapote on the fact that, at that time, a "plan B" was already established:
Fidel Cadena: "Did they begin to have the perception that the Mossos (Catalan polic) could not act? Was this possibility felt or valued in the alternative plans studied?"
Ángel Gozalo: "In the plans, as we have indicated, the prosecutor's instruction already gave this double mission: reserve to support, and whenever it was appropriate, direct action. Likewise, the State Secretariat pointed out this double role in several of its points and criteria."
Just like Trapote, Gozalo stated that Major Trapero "showed dissatisfaction" with the figure of the coordinator, Diego Pérez de los Cobos, who defended saying that his role was "joining efforts with harmony."
The witness stated that on September 19 they already saw that "something was wrong" with the Mossos, and assured that 20-S activity was reported to them "minutes before the eventas", thus taking a long time. "The doubt was growing," he concluded.
To questions of the public prosecutor, Gozalo has said that some mass media, among them TV3, "incited" to fill the schools before 1-O:
"Precisely. Through communications on social networks then replicated in the media, both the CCMA itself and other private means were persistently giving this news. There were news in social networks as well stating that this would happen, that activities could be carried out. There was a fostering, in some way and from different points, in the direction of this playful-festive activity, this Saturday evening, which, in comparison with all Saturday nights of previous periods, was not a usual one."
"Pre-war language" in schools
According to what he said, "theoretical-practical training workshops" were being organized at schools to defend the referendum:
Ángel Gozalo: "In addition to that, also through social networks, we heard that the so-called CDRs (defense committees of the Republic) invited, in the vicinity of their headquarters, the citizens to go to some kind of workshops in which they would receive some type of orientations and so forth."
Fidel Cadena: "Workshops of resistance?"
Ángel Gozalo: "Workshops of theoretical and practical training to resist or oppose what they said had to be defende, then: the polls, the republic, the referendum. These activities to defend, using, if I may, a pre-war language."
A "citizen" who "complies with the law"
During the interrogation of Javier Ortega Smith, secretary general of Vox, Gozalo has qualified the adjective "pre-war" arguing that he has used it as a "citizen" that "complies with the law":
"This was a qualification only aiming to describe we talk about when we listen to things such as: "we will defend the polls, the republic ", one, who also deems himself to be a citizen, well, I am complying with the law. So, from my point of view, "defend" is a "pre-war" language.
Ortega Smith sked him what happened in the schools during October 1, and Gozalo avoided using the expression "human shields", but suggested that "people of a certain age" may have been forced to come to the very front line:
Javier Ortega Smith: "Did these people form human shields to prevent police action?"
Ángel Gozalo: "Indeed. I wouldn't use the word shield'. It was people who, harmonically, jointly, put themselves together and prevented, sometimes even using their arms, an easy access. In some cases, preventing access and exit."
Javier Ortega Smith: "These people who were in this front line to avoid the access or exit of police officers, do you know if they were children, elderly people or people with disabilities?"
Ángel Gozalo: "No, mostly, no. Yes, in some cases we detected children. I even remember a case of a citizen who had a child with him. But it was not usual. It was more frequent to see people of a certain age who was just there. I don't know wether they did it by their own foot or they were forced to put themselves in the front line, but they were there, and they loaded agents with a considerable degree of verbal intensity. "
The cars of 20-S
At the beginning of the interrogation in the afternoon, and to questions from the defence counsels, Gozalo referred to the cars of the Guardia Civil that remained before the Conselleria de Economia (Ministry of Economy) on September 20. The witness explained that two of the vehicles could not fit in the car park of the Conselleria:
"At 8:45 more agents from the Mossos appeared. They were informed of the need to establish a small circle, because at this time there was not one, we had there the two vehicles at the door: they were vehicles of the unit and security with a certain height, and it was not feasible to introduce them into the parking lot of the conselleria. "
Gozalo added that inside the cars there were long weapons, made of rubber ammunition, that the agents kept until it was "humanly possible":
"Those weapons were in principle kept by the security team that gave protection to the delegation. They stayed until it was humanly possible and, when it was not already, the team leader ordered them to watch the vehicles, but this time, from inside the Ministry facilities."
"No agent from the Guardia Civil used pepper spray"
The lawyer Jordi Pina, defence counsel of Sànchez, Rull and Turull, asked Gozalo if pepper spray was used against demonstrators in the towns of Lleida and Tarragona. The response of the former head of the Civil Guard in Catalonia was overwhelming:
"I completely deny itr. No Guardia Civil agent used pepper spray."
Pina introduced the case of Aiguaviva, where a police officer sprayed people with a gas, and Gozalo explained then that it was an irritating gas:
"That's not pepper spray. Yes, there is that spray in the endowment of the special mass control units, which came under request to presumably attend some situations that may be needed on day 1, and these special units in their equipment have a spray that is used for self-defense."
Then, asked by the lawyer Àlex Solà, from the defense of Jordi Cuixart, he commented that in Aiguaviva this spray was used to "grant access to agents":
"(Solà) This gas that is not pepper gas what gas is it?
(Gozalo) I'm sorry I can not give you the detailed Chemical composition.
(Solà) And its function? Is it irritating the eyes, the throat ...? Or simply annoying the one sprayed ...?
(Gozalo) Yes, indeed. It is to try to "bother" the citizen, because it irritates his eyes partially and, with this degree of discomfort, it allows agents to move forward or to be able to separate and favor the movement of entry or exit intended. In this specific case, they told me, in Aiguaviva it was about being able to grant access to the agents. It was used by a man from the reserve and security group, and it tried to create a way for those who were part of the team that had already carried out or was going to carry out the police intervention."
This video shows the use of gas in Aiguaviva:
- Catalan independence trial