Catalan police chief walks free after sedition hearing

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Lluis Trapero, chief of the Catalan regional police "Mossos D'Esquadra" giving a press conference in Barcelona on August 31, 2017.

MADRID - Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero on Monday was allowed to walk free from a court in Madrid where he faced charges of sedition, a judicial source said.

Spanish state prosecutors had demanded he be remanded in custody pending trial on accusations that he failed to stop Catalonia's banned independence referendum from going ahead on 1 October.

Trapero, who became a popular figure in Catalonia for his handling of the August jihadist attacks in Barcelona and nearby Cambrils, faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of sedition.

The head of the Mossos d'Esquadra regional force is also accused of failing to contain protests that followed arrests and searches in Catalonia last month by national police as part of a crackdown on the outlawed independence vote.

READ: Catalan leader pressured as independence deadline looms

The Guardia Civil national police force accused Catalan police of disobeying orders.

The Mossos defended themselves, saying they stopped voting at 446 polling stations and that a more aggressive intervention would have been counterproductive.

Monday's appearance at Madrid's National Court was Trapero's second in 10 days.

It came as the region's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont - who counts Trapero as a close ally - failed to clarify Monday whether he intended to follow through with his threat to declare independence in Catalonia, despite a government deadline.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by giving Puigdemont a fresh deadline of 0800 GMT on Thursday to "return to legality".