Catalonia defies Madrid’s attempt to take over local police, as chief refuses to comply
Spain’s central government plan to take direct control over the local police force in the autonomous region of Catalonia in a bid to halt the upcoming independence referendum, faced staunch resistance, with local officials denouncing it as “intervention attempt.”
On Saturday, the chief of the Catalan police, Jose Maria Romero de Tejada, was informed that both he and his officers have to answer to the Civil Guard and Interior Ministry commander Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos. The Catalan police, Madrid claims, have not been complying with their instructions to clear protesters away from government buildings. Although de Tejada remains formally in charge, he must now take orders from Colonel Cobos, who has already deployed additional National Police and Civil Guard forces into the autonomous region.
However, Catalonia’s Interior Minister, Joaquim Forn, condemned the move as an attempt by the federal forces to hijack the local police force.
“We denounce the intervention of the state to control the police forces of Catalonia … We will not accept this control,” Forn said, as cited by Reuters.
Forn noted that the chief of Catalonian police force, Mossos d’Esquadra, rejected the proposed takeover as well as he met with the National Police and top state prosecutor, AFP reported.
The federal government, through its representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo, urged Forn against fueling street protests with his rhetoric, arguing that the government “is not taking over the police competencies of the regional government,” but assumes the role of a coordinator of a joint security operation.