Catalonia on streets after Spain's arrests

Posted September 23, 2017

A demonstration in Barcelona against police raids and arrests of officials as part of a crackdown on a planned Catalan independence referendum has ended after those arrested were released.

Catalonia, which wants to hold a vote on October 1 to split from Spain, has its own police called Mossos d'Esquadra, though the state police Guardia Civil has quarters throughout the region and often works alongside them.

The Catalan regional government confirmed Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs, was among those arrested. "We are respecting the Spanish Constitutional order", said the Berlaymont spokesperson, adding that no phone call is on the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's plans at the moment.

A spokesman for Junqueras confirmed the arrest and said that other Catalan government premises were being searched by the agents. It didn't say how many extra police would be sent. Three ferries docked at Barcelona's port will provide accommodation for the extra officers.

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Hundreds entered the main building of Barcelona University and occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers. Student union representatives urged the protesters to remain over the weekend. Catalan authorities vowed to hold the referendum despite the court's ruling.

Mr Puigdemont had accused the central government of effectively suspending devolution after it moved to seize control of regional finances to stop them being used to fund the referendum.

The measure came amid rising tension between Spanish and Catalan authorities over the planned October 1 ballot.

A pro-independence group said about 2,500 supporters were at the protest in Hospitalet. The Catalan National Assembly, a driving force behind the secession movement, urged people to gather at noon September 21 outside the region's justice tribunal and bring tents if needed. The next day, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan law on referendum.