MADRID (Reuters) – The mounting political crisis in Spain over Catalonia’s campaign for independence intensified on Saturday with a new row over the control of the local police force as the regional government pressed ahead with plans to hold an illegal vote next weekend.
The State prosecutor in Catalonia told all local and national police forces on Saturday that they had been temporarily placed under a single chain of command reporting directly to the interior ministry in Madrid.
But Catalonia’s interior chief, Joaquim Forn, said his department and the local police, or Mossos d‘Esquadra, did not accept this decision.
“We denounce the intervention of the state to control the police forces of Catalonia … We will not accept this control,” Forn said in a televised speech.
It was not immediately clear whether the regional administration and the Mossos could actually oppose the decision, as Spanish laws allow for the possibility of state police taking the lead over the police of an autonomous community during a joint operation.
The central government representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo, had earlier said the Mossos remained in charge of security in Catalonia though they would be “coordinated” directly by the interior ministry and not by the local authorities, together with two national police forces also on the ground in Catalonia.
“We are not taking over the police competencies of the regional government,” Millo told reporters after an event held by his People’s Party (PP) in Palma de Mallorca, in Eastern Spain.