ALMOST 70 people over the age of 65 years – 13 of them older than 79 – were among the 1066 injured as police used riot batons, shields and rubber bullets to try to stop voting in the October 2017 Catalan independence referendum, according to new research.

A report by professor Núria Pujol-Moix, from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and researcher at the Hospital de Sant Pau’ research institute in Barcelona, took more than a year to compile and is the first detailed examination of those who were injured, their types of injuries and how they were caused.

Footage of Spain’s National Police (CNP) and Civil Guard officers was widely circulated on social media during the referendum, showing officers lashing out at unarmed people of all ages trying to cast their votes in a poll the Spanish government had ruled illegal. Pujol-Moix’s report, published by VilaWeb, reveals that 432 suffered multiple injuries in a total trauma count of 1443.

Recorded injuries range from bumps, punches and kicks to others sustained as people were thrown to the ground, down stairs or dragged by their ears, hair, necks and mouths.

Rubber bullets were also used in the vicinity of several polling stations.

The CNP and Civil Guard are also alleged to have inflicted cryogenic trauma – affecting parts of the brain and internal organs – on 34 people. Half a dozen were injured through violent jolting causing their brains to rattle against their skulls and 137 people had head and neck injuries, indicating that police breached their own protocols.

These state that officers must act with political neutrality and impartiality and only use their weapons where there is a serious risk for their life, physical integrity or that of third parties, or in circumstances that could pose a serious risk to the public’s safety.

Only a fifth of the recorded injuries were in green areas of the body as defined by baton manufacturers – arms and legs, except joints, buttocks and shoulders – and 80%, in areas that risked internal organ injuries, including the head, neck, chest and spinal areas.

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In her study, Pujol-Moix noted that two days before the poll the CNP unions had said “non-voting” would be guaranteed.

“Given that there were no precedents and, believing the words of the police unions, no one expected that on October 1 the action of the Spanish police forces would be so violent, indiscriminate and disproportionate, with the incorrect and excessively aggressive use of police defences and the use of riot police, not allowed in Catalonia,” she said.

“In the numerous photos and videos that were immediately disseminated, there was a large number of people injured in polling stations in many towns and cities in Catalonia.

“Among the injured people there was a notable proportion of elderly people.”

She added that international organisations had said the police charges were disproportionately violent, including the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, which had criticised the fact that no police officer had been convicted of using excessive violence during the poll.

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Meanwhile, as the Catalan pro-independence leaders prepare for their trials – due to start early next month – Spain’s Supreme Court has revealed that it will call Spain’s former prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, to give evidence.

The seven judges who will hear the cases have rejected a bid to call King Felipe on the grounds that the law exempts the monarch from having to be a witness. They will not, however, call exiles, the former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont or Marta Rivera, ex-head of the left-wing ERC.