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Protesters stage huge march across Catalonia against jailing of separatist leaders

PROTESTERS began marching from towns and cities across the Spanish region of Catalonia today amid a third day of violent clashes with police after the jailing of nine separatist leaders.

Thousands were expected to reach the Catalan capital Barcelona tomorrow in time for a major regional demonstration against Monday’s verdict which saw sentences of up to 13 years handed to MPs and leaders of the independence movement.

Charges against them included sedition and the misuse of public funds, some of which were siphoned off to pay for the failed 2017 independence referendum which was deemed unlawful by Madrid. 

Highways were blocked today as students walked out to join the protests.

The Spanish government warned of “sabotage” as the high-speed train line between Barcelona and Girona was halted.

Yesterday peaceful protests in Barcelona involved 40,000 people to demonstrate near the Spanish government representative’s office. 

In the evening violence broke out as police mobilised, with foam bullets fired as they struggled to control crowds who responded with rocks and firecrackers. More than 150 barricades were set up across the city.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez issued his “firmest and complete condemnation of the violence that is trying to shatter the social harmony in Catalonia.”

He gave his full support for the forces of security.

Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa urged Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra “to condemn the episode we saw yesterday.”

But he has not denounced the street violence and called for protesters to engage in civil disobedience.

Officials from the Catalan and national government met today to discuss developments. Details were not known at the time the Star went to print.

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