Locals in a Spanish town set alight and shot at a puppet made to resemble Carles Puigdemont, the ex-president of the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Residents of Coripe, Seville, destroyed the effigy as part of the "Burning of Judas" — an Easter-time ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, where a dummy of Judas Iscariot is burned.
At other events, Judas effigies are hung, flogged, and blown up with fireworks.
The model of Puigdemont was dressed in a cape made of the Catalan flag and adorned with a yellow ribbon — a sign of support for jailed pro-independence leaders.
Videos of the incident caused controversy when they were shared on social media.
"Today in a town in Spain, governed by the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party), they decided to shoot and burn a doll that looked like me, and that wore a visible yellow ribbon," Puigdemont said on Twitter.
"They did not want to shoot and burn me, they wanted to mock the struggle for freedom of prisoners and exiles."
The mayor of Coripe, Antonio Perez of the PSOE, dismissed the controversy as "satire" and has justified the decision to make a Judas doll resembling the former Catalan president, saying the tradition during the festival was to create a figure "that represents evil and the thing that is killed is evil ".
"Thousands of politicians, bankers, Arabs ... all kinds of characters have been made into this character," he added in a statement to the Spanish press agency Europa Press.
In an interview with the Spanish daily Diario de Sevilla, Perez named other public figures who had served a Judas effigy, including actress Barbara Rey and ex-president Jose Maria Aznar.
Last year, the doll was made in the image of Ana Julia Quezada, the self-confessed killer of an eight-year-old boy in southern Spain, whose case was widely covered by national media in 2018.
Perez's Socialist compatriots in Catalonia have spoken out against the incident in Coripe.
"I condemn all the acts of intolerance that occur in this campaign, including burning the image of a person, preventing electoral acts, or any other type of intolerant behaviour," wrote Meritxell Batet, a member of the Socialists of Catalonia and minister for territorial policy and public administration.
Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, said on Twitter it was an "unfortunate act against the figure of Carles Puigdemont", although he retweeted the below post that called for people to take into account the context of the situation.
The controversy came just a week before the Spanish general election, which will be held on Sunday, April 28.
The "Burning of Judas" has been celebrated in the municipality of Coripe for 100 years and takes place after the Mass on Resurrection Sunday.
Diario de Sevilla said the choice of effigy is delegated to a small group of people and is not revealed until the day of the event.