Madrid's jailing of two separatist leaders provokes huge demonstrations in Barcelona
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Barcelona to protest against the detention of two leading Catalan separatists.
On Monday (Oct 16) Spain’s national court jailed Catalan National Assembly (ANC) president, Jordi Sanchez and Omnium Cultural chief Jordi Cuixart, pending investigations for alleged sedition.
⚠️200,000 people take to the streets of Barcelona demanding release of pro-independence leaders, according to police figures pic.twitter.com/cs3lmlb3CP
— Catalan News (@catalannews) October 17, 2017
Sanchez and Cuixart are accused of inciting demonstrators to stop police officers halting preparations for the October 1st independence referendum. However a recording has come to light of the alleged incident but where the two men are apparently calling on the crowd to disperse and to return to their homes peacefully.
“The Spanish government denies these men are not political prisoners. But they can’t prosecute for sedition because that is a crime only applicable to politicians. So then they should be charged with vandalism. But then again nobody has been put in jail on charges of vandalism,” said protester Emilia Dominguez
“They are the first political prisoners of 2017. It once seemed there would be no more political prisoners but they are the first, let’s hope they are the last,” added a fellow separatist demonstrator.
Spain’s Constitutional Court which initially only suspended the referendum has now formally ruled the vote void.
prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont a Thursday deadline to withdraw the region’s independence bid or he will evoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and impose direct rule from Madrid.