Police attack protesters amid fresh unrest over jailed Catalan leaders

The Canary

Police attacked protesters in Catalonia after a massive rally in Barcelona against the imprisonment of nine separatist leaders for their roles in what was seen as an illegal 2017 secession bid.

The flare-up came after a week of tense calm without major incidents following six days when Catalonia was rocked by riots each night after the October 14 supreme court verdict that found 12 Catalan leaders guilty of sedition and other crimes.

Violent clashes led to 500 people, including some police, being injured and around 200 arrests.

Spain Catalonia
The rally has been held in support of nine jailed Catalan leaders (AP)

Hundreds of protestors surrounded the National Police headquarters in downtown Barcelona and threw plastic balls at the officers on guard.

When they switched to raining down rocks and bottles, police charged with batons swinging and after a chaotic moment managed to extend a perimeter.

Earlier on Saturday, Barcelona police said 350,000 people rallied peacefully in the regional capital, many waving pro-independence flags for Catalonia.

The rally was organised by the main pro-secession grassroots groups who want to create a new state in the north-eastern corner of Spain.

Spain Catalonia
A Catalan police officer aims his weapon (AP)

The president of the pro-secession grassroots group ANC, Elisenda Paluzie, said at the peaceful protest:

We cannot accept that (the prisoners) have been condemned to terms of nine to 13 years for defending the self-determination of Catalans.

Nine Catalan officials were given sentences of nine to 13 years for sedition by the Supreme Court.

Four of those were also convicted of misuse of public funds. The other three were fined for disobedience.

They were all acquitted of the more serious crime of rebellion, which carries sentences of up to 25 years. Spain’s most right-wing politicians called the verdict soft.

Spain Catalonia
An estimated 350,000 people took part in the rally (AP)

Spain’s government has told Catalonia’s separatists that the national parliament would need to amend the constitution, which considers the nation indivisible, to make secession by any region legal.

The largest pro-Spanish union grassroots group Catalan Civil Society has called for another rally in Barcelona on Sunday.

Catalonia’s 7.5 million residents are divided about severing ties with the rest of the country.

The Catalan crisis is set to be a key issue in Spain’s November 10 national election, where Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez will try to stay in power.

On 26 October, Spain’s far-right party Vox drew several thousand people to a political rally in central Madrid. Vox is trying to profile itself as the best option to stop the rupture of Spain.

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us