Spain: Thousands take to the streets over arrest of Catalan separatists

Several thousand Spaniards marched near Barcelona on Saturday to protest the jailing of seven Catalan separatists on suspicion they planned to carry out attacks with explosives.

Protesters walked behind a banner that read “The repression won’t stop us. Liberty” as they marched through Sabadell, the hometown of some of the arrested separatists.

Police said 12,000 people demonstrated.

Supporters of independence for Spain’s Catalonia region claim the arrests are an attempt to criminalise a movement that is been overwhelmingly peaceful.

The seven were arrested Monday on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation, manufacturing explosives and conspiring to wreak havoc.

A National Court judge ordered them to remain jailed Thursday. The judge said they are thought to be linked to radical groups that organised protests and blocked roads and train lines.

Also Saturday, Spanish newspaper ABC reported that one of the arrested separatists had contacts with Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra about alleged plans to occupy the regional parliament building in Barcelona. The report cited investigators.

Torra’s office said they do not give any credibility to the news report.

Separately, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming weeks in the case against 12 leaders of Catalonia’s failed 2017 secession attempt. A guilty verdict with harsh sentences would likely spark more protests in Catalonia.

Polls and recent elections show that the 7.5 million residents of the wealthy Catalonia region are roughly split even on the independence issue.

source: AP