#students | #parents | Catalonia independence ‘closer than ever’, as Spain jails 12 politicians over 2017 secession bid

A middle-aged woman was knocked to the ground after being assaulted by a Catalan pro-independence supporter seconds after he snatched her Spanish flag out of her hands.

Demonstrators took to the streets across the region after nine separatist leaders were jailed today over a failed independence bid. 

The woman was floored after taking to the streets today to celebrate the Spanish Supreme Court decision to jail nine of the 12 independence leaders tried earlier this year. 

The young man was seen snatching a Spanish flag from a woman goading the crowd of pro-independence protesters before spinning round and smacking her in the head when she tried to retrieve it 

She was filmed dancing with the national flag in her hand in the east coast city of Tarragona and taunting Catalan separatists before telling them: ‘You’re on Spanish soil.’

Footage showed a young man coming up behind her and snatching it from her before turning round to whack her in the face as she attempted to retrieve it.

She fell hard onto the concrete. It was not immediately clear if she was badly injured and needed to be taken to hospital although she was filmed getting to her feet and shouting ‘Asesino’ – Spanish for ‘Killer’ before being led away by police. 

In footage captured from the scene in the city of Tarragona, the woman could be seen taunting separatist demonstrators after nine Catalan leader were jailed today

In footage captured from the scene in the city of Tarragona, the woman could be seen taunting separatist demonstrators after nine Catalan leader were jailed today 

The woman (seen lying on the floor after the attack) was identified as Maria Grima - a militant of far right-wing Spanish party VOX

The woman (seen lying on the floor after the attack) was identified as Maria Grima – a militant of far right-wing Spanish party VOX

It was also unclear this afternoon if the unidentified aggressor had been arrested.

The woman was later identified as a militant of far right-wing party VOX called, Maria Grima. The party called the attack ‘intolerable’.

The violent incident occurred shortly after Spain’s Supreme Court announced its long-awaited ruling on the fate of the Catalan separatist leaders tried over a failed 2017 independence bid. 

Nine of the 12 tried earlier this year were convicted of sedition and misuse of public funds. 

Demonstrators even blocked the escalators of El Prat Airport in Barcelona with luggage trolleys after nine separatist leaders were jailed today over a failed independence bid

Demonstrators even blocked the escalators of El Prat Airport in Barcelona with luggage trolleys after nine separatist leaders were jailed today over a failed independence bid

Police used batons against the protesters who converged on El Prat airport after a call by the grassroots group Democratic Tsunami, which supports Catalan secession

Police used batons against the protesters who converged on El Prat airport after a call by the grassroots group Democratic Tsunami, which supports Catalan secession

Protesters and stranded travellers are pictured inside the airport. The long-awaited verdicts were less than those demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for Junqueras on the grounds of rebellion

Protesters and stranded travellers are pictured inside the airport. The long-awaited verdicts were less than those demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for Junqueras on the grounds of rebellion

Protesters are pictured clashing with Spanish police inside El Prat airport in Barcelona. Hundreds of students and civil servants also began protesting in different parts of the city

Protesters are pictured clashing with Spanish police inside El Prat airport in Barcelona. Hundreds of students and civil servants also began protesting in different parts of the city

Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras said the region’s independence from Spain ‘is closer than ever’ following the sentencing that saw him jailed for 13 years.

Three other former Catalan government ministers, Raul Romeva, Jordi Turull and Dolors Bassa, were jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of the same charges.

The long-awaited verdicts were less than those demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for Junqueras on the grounds of rebellion. 

After being sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in an illegal 2017 secession attempt, Junqueras said ‘we Catalans do not have an alternative’.

Young people holding up signs in Catalan reading 'Everybody to the airport' during protests in Barcelona today after Spain's Supreme Court jailed nine former Catalan politicians

Young people holding up signs in Catalan reading ‘Everybody to the airport’ during protests in Barcelona today after Spain’s Supreme Court jailed nine former Catalan politicians

Several thousand people gather at Catalunya Square in Barcelona today to protest against the sentence ruled by Supreme Court on 'process' trial'

Several thousand people gather at Catalunya Square in Barcelona today to protest against the sentence ruled by Supreme Court on ‘process’ trial’

The anti-Catalan independence demonstrator waved a Spanish flag and chanted, 'you're on Spanish soil' to a crowd of separatists

The anti-Catalan independence demonstrator waved a Spanish flag and chanted, ‘you’re on Spanish soil’ to a crowd of separatists 

Protesters outside Lledoners jail in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada today where Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras was jailed, after Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison

Protesters outside Lledoners jail in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada today where Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras was jailed, after Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison

The comments were carried by his Republican Left party after the sentence by the Supreme Court was released today.

Junqueras said in an audio message from prison: ‘This is not justice but revenge.’ 

Hundreds of students and civil servants began protesting in different parts of Barcelona, the Catalan capital, following the prison sentences of the nine separatist leaders.

Demonstrators blocked some roads in the city, while civil servants gathered outside some government buildings. 

Riot police charged at protesters outside Barcelona’s airport Monday after the Supreme Court sentenced 12 prominent Catalan separatists to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a 2017 push for the wealthy Spanish region’s independence.

Police used batons against the protesters who converged on El Prat airport after a call by the grassroots group Democratic Tsunami, which supports Catalan secession.

‘Today they have violated all their rights. It is horrible that Europe doesn’t act,’ 60-year-old civil servant Deni Saball said while protesting in the street. 

‘I don’t want to be European. I don’t want to be Spanish.’

Protests were also reported in other towns across the wealthy northeastern region.

By noon the square was packed with thousands of demonstrators, many waving yellow, red and blue Catalan separatist flags or banners reading ‘We would do it again’ and ‘Freedom for political prisoners’. 

The Supreme Court sentenced nine leaders to sentences from nine to 13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds. Three more were given fines but not jail time.

Joan Guich, a 19-year-old student protesting in Barcelona said: ‘I feel fury and a sense of powerlessness. They have been convicted for an ideology which I agree with.’ 

Passengers walking towards El Prat airport as the highway is blocked by Catalan regional police 'Mossos D'Esquadra' officers in Barcelona

Passengers walking towards El Prat airport as the highway is blocked by Catalan regional police ‘Mossos D’Esquadra’ officers in Barcelona

An Estelada pro-independence flag being waved among protesters at El Prat airport in Barcelona today

An Estelada pro-independence flag being waved among protesters at El Prat airport in Barcelona today

Hundreds of people block the central Via Laietana against the sentence of the 'process' announced against Catalan pro-independence leaders, in Barcelona, Catalonia, today

Hundreds of people block the central Via Laietana against the sentence of the ‘process’ announced against Catalan pro-independence leaders, in Barcelona, Catalonia, today

Former regional vice president Oriol Junqueras (right), former regional foreign minister Raul Romeva (centre), regional minister of interior Joaquim Forn (left) and nine other defendants at the start of the so-called 'process' trial against 12 Catalan pro-independence politicians in Madrid in February

Former regional vice president Oriol Junqueras (right), former regional foreign minister Raul Romeva (centre), regional minister of interior Joaquim Forn (left) and nine other defendants at the start of the so-called ‘process’ trial against 12 Catalan pro-independence politicians in Madrid in February

Within minutes of the ruling demonstrators had poured onto the streets of the Catalan capital, waving flags and blocking traffic over the conviction of the separatist leaders who organised a 2017 referendum banned by Madrid.

‘We have to mobilise and stick up for them…in a way that has an impact, closing airports, stations, but always avoiding violence,’ Guich said. ‘Or at least, it won’t be us that provokes it.’

Barcelona Football Club criticised the sentences after they were made public, saying in a statement: ‘The resolution of the conflict in Catalonia must come exclusively from political dialogue.

‘Therefore, now more than ever, the club asks all political leaders to lead a process of dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict, which should also allow for the release of convicted civic and political leaders.

‘FC Barcelona also expresses all its support and solidarity to the families of those who are deprived of their freedom.’ 

Former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain to Belgium along with several others following the failed secession bid, wrote on Twitter that he was appalled by the verdict.

‘A total of 100 year of prison. How horrible. Now more than ever, we will be you and your families. For the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia,’ he said. 

The leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia demanded amnesty for the separatist leaders.

Quim Torra said in a televised address: ‘We demand freedom for the political prisoners, the exiles, we demand an amnesty as the final stage for all those who have been persecuted.’

Students protest holding banners reading "All to the airport" in Barcelona today as demonstrations broke put across the region

Students protest holding banners reading ‘All to the airport’ in Barcelona today as demonstrations broke put across the region 

Activists Joan Porras and Jordi Pesarrodona (right) hug each other outside the prison of Lledoners after the sentence of the 'process' against Catalan pro-independence leaders was announced in Barcelona today

Activists Joan Porras and Jordi Pesarrodona (right) hug each other outside the prison of Lledoners after the sentence of the ‘process’ against Catalan pro-independence leaders was announced in Barcelona today

A protester in Barcelona a holding photo of Oriol Junqueras behind bars (centre) as hundreds of people block the central Via Laietana against the sentence in Madrid today

A protester in Barcelona a holding photo of Oriol Junqueras behind bars (centre) as hundreds of people block the central Via Laietana against the sentence in Madrid today

Spain’s Supreme Court has convicted 12 former Catalan politicians and activists for their roles in the secession movement of 2017. 

The 12 were tried for their actions in a 2017 attempt by Catalonia to break away from Spain following an illegal independence referendum.

Spain’s caretaker PM Pedro Sanchez welcomed the verdict, saying: ‘Today brings an exemplary legal process to an end and confirms the failure of a political process. It has only left pain in its wake.’

Albert Rivera, leader of the centre-right Ciudadanos party and a staunch opponent of the pro-independence Catalans, said of the Tarragona assault in a tweet: ‘How terrible!! This is what can happen in my country when you carry the national flag, that you get brutally attacked by Catalan separatists.

‘Being Spanish gives you the right to be free in any part of Spain. And any government’s obligation is to guarantee it.’

In Barcelona protests by pro-independence supporters affected people trying to get to and from the city’s international airport.

Police put a ring of steel around the airport to stop those without boarding cards accessing the terminal, but travellers were pictured getting out of taxis and walking part of the way to make sure they did not miss planes.

Mossos d'Esquadra Catalan police and National policemen keep watch at the Sants railway station in Barcelona, Catalonia, today as part of security forces measures in case of protests

Mossos d’Esquadra Catalan police and National policemen keep watch at the Sants railway station in Barcelona, Catalonia, today as part of security forces measures in case of protests

The Supreme Court ahead of the sentence in the trial against Catalan political leaders was announced at the Supreme Court in Madrid

The Supreme Court ahead of the sentence in the trial against Catalan political leaders was announced at the Supreme Court in Madrid

Grassroots pro-secession groups have previously said that if any of the defendants were found guilty they would organise protests and ‘peaceful civil disobedience.’

Spanish authorities have deployed hundreds of extra police to the region in anticipation of the ruling.

Divided and deadlocked since the failure of their 2017 secession bid, Catalan separatists are hoping Spain’s jailing of their leaders will unite the ranks and give fresh impetus for change.

The impasse has fuelled growing frustration within the pro-independence movement, raising concerns about the radicalisation of certain fringe elements. 

‘The movement has been out cold’ since 2017, said political scientist Berta Barbet.

Its leaders had promised a quick and easy path to independence which proved to be ‘unrealistic’ when faced with total opposition from Madrid, and ambivalence at home, with the region totally divided over the matter, she said.

The Spanish government responded rapidly, suspending the region’s autonomy and dismissing the pro-independence government of Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution.

But others stayed behind and were put on trial, with nine of them handed jail terms of between nine and 13 years for sedition.

Catala president Carles Puigdemont (centre), vice president Oriol Junqueras (left) and president of the Parliament Carme Forcadell (right) sing the Catalan anthem "Els Segadors" after a session of the Catalan parliament in Barcelona in October 2017

Catala president Carles Puigdemont (centre), vice president Oriol Junqueras (left) and president of the Parliament Carme Forcadell (right) sing the Catalan anthem ‘Els Segadors’ after a session of the Catalan parliament in Barcelona in October 2017 

President of the Catalan Government Carles Puigdemont (right) signs a decree calling an independence referendum past in September 2017.  Oriol Junqueras (centre) is also pictured at the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona

President of the Catalan Government Carles Puigdemont (right) signs a decree calling an independence referendum past in September 2017.  Oriol Junqueras (centre) is also pictured at the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona

Since then, ‘there has not been any substantive thought about how to move forward,’ explained Joan Botella, a political scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Despite their lack of direction, the secessionists remain in power, dominating the regional parliament and running many local authorities in this wealthy northeastern region of some 7.5 million people.

‘Morale is low, but the electoral weight of the independence movement is still there, it’s not in decline,’ Barbet said. 

Pro-separatist parties and associations have vowed to unite and ‘respond en masse’ to the verdict with demonstrations, roadblocks and a possible strike, but have pledged it will involve ‘non-violent struggle and peaceful civil disobedience’.

After years of large-scale demonstrations which for the most part have been peaceful, police said in late last month they had arrested a group of separatists on suspicion of preparing violent attacks, charging seven of them with belonging to a ‘terrorist organisation’.

The arrests have raised concerns about the radicalisation of fringe elements within the separatist movement. 


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