Spain sending extra police to Catalonia over independence referendum

by Antonio Miles September 25, 2017, 0:27
Spain sending extra police to Catalonia over independence referendum

The government of Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain, has called a referendum on independence for October 1, triggering a constitutional crisis in the country.

On Saturday, the chief of the Catalan police, Jose Maria Romero de Tejada, was informed that both he and his officers have to answer to the Civil Guard and Interior Ministry commander Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos.

Street protests against the measures grew ugly, with demonstrators vandalising two police cars, and a prosecutor asked Spain's National Court to consider investigating demonstrators for sedition.

Catalonia is scheduled to hold a referendum on secession from Spain on October 1.

"The new officers would monitor public spaces, keep order and "act in case the illegal referendum is maintained," the ministry said in a statement".

Meanwhile, Ian Williams, the other contributor on the panel, said the Catalan separatists are playing very cleverly by provoking the government in Madrid, "because they know the government is stupid enough" to fall in the trap. Police acting on a judge's orders searched 42 premises, including six regional government offices, officials' private offices and homes, as well as three companies in Barcelona, the court said in a statement.

"If you care about the tranquility of most Catalans, give up this escalation of radicalism and disobedience", the conservative leader said, addressing Catalan officials directly.

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A large and noisy demonstration lasting more than 24 hours in Barcelona against the raids and arrests dispersed on Friday afternoon after the officials were released.

The remaining students were hold-outs from a group of about 2,000 that gathered in and around the university Friday.

Hundreds entered the main building of Barcelona University and occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers.

Despite the raids, arrests and accusations, Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont is calling on pro-independence activists to continue to protest for the right to vote.

The arrests, as well as Wednesday's seizure of almost 10 million ballots destined for the vote, have seriously damaged separatist plans to conduct a referendum with a semblance of legitimacy, even if it was never going to be recognized by Madrid.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain's 1.1-trillion-euro ($1.32 trillion) economy and enjoys wide self-government authority, although key areas such as infrastructure and taxes are in the hands of central authorities.


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