Last Update 22:17
Friday, 15 November 2019

In Photos: Half a million protesters at Barcelona rally against sentencing of independence leaders

Reuters , AFP , Friday 18 Oct 2019
Catalan demonstrators
Catalan demonstrators gather during Catalonia's general strike in Barcelona, Spain, October 18, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1240
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1240

More than half a million people rallied in Barcelona on Friday in protest at Spain's sentencing of nine separatist leaders to long prison terms over an abortive independence bid, local police said.

Figures provided by the police said some 525,000 people had joined the demonstration, which saw many thousands of people arriving in the city after taking part in a three-day walk from five towns in the region.

A crowd of protesters hurled stones and cans at police in riot gear, and dragged large garbage bins to the middle of a main city boulevard, and set them ablaze. Police vans tried but failed to push people back onto the pavements.

Catalan demonstrators
Dumpsters burn during Catalonia's general strike in Barcelona, Spain, October 18, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)

Other mass rallies held across the city to denounce lengthy prison terms handed down this week to nine independence leaders, were peaceful.

"Throughout this week, as you well know, there have been violent incidents in Catalonia. They have been organised ... by groups who are a minority but are very organised," Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told a news conference. "Their actions, as we have already said, will also not go unpunished."

"We have always been peaceful people, but you get to a point where you get treated in such a way that people are getting angry," said Carlota Llacuna, a 19-year old student from the Maresca region near Barcelona. "They put our leaders in prison."

One of the main ringleaders, Catalonia's former chief Carles Puigdemont, has so far escaped trial after he fled to Belgium in 2017 when the independence drive was thwarted.

Spain this week renewed its bid to get him extradited and he was briefly detained by Belgian police on Friday before a judge ordered his release pending a decision on the Spanish arrest warrant. A court is meant to hear the case on Oct. 29.

El Clasico Postponed

Several main streets in Barcelona were closed to traffic because of Friday's marches, while regional trains and the city's metro were running on a reduced timetable.

Barcelona's main landmark, the multi-spired Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi, was closed due to the protests, an official told Reuters.

The Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said in a statement on that Barcelona's Oct. 26 home match against Real Madrid, which is known as "el clasico" and is one of the biggest rivalries in world sport, had been postponed due to security concerns.

Barcelona's El Prat airport cancelled 57 flights on Friday, airport operator Aena said.

Barcelona town hall said 700 garbage containers had been set ablaze since protests began on Monday and estimated that the city had suffered damage totalling more than 1.5 million euros ($1.67 million).

Spain riot police
Riot police stand guard as a dumpster burns during Catalonia's general strike in Barcelona, Spain, October 18, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)

In an apparent effort to hamper the protesters, a Spanish judge ordered on Friday the closure of web pages linked to a pro-independence group, Democratic Tsunami, which has been deftly directing its followers to various demonstrations.

However, as soon as its site was shuttered, the group migrated its homepage to a new url, sidestepping the ruling.

Democratic Tsunami is a new, secretive group that emerged in September and has drawn thousands of followers on both its website and social media.

Although it says it is committed to non-violent protests, many young demonstrators have battled police over the past three nights in Barcelona in scenes reminiscent of the some of the urban unrest that has rocked France over the past year.

Regional police said 16 people were arrested across Catalonia on Thursday, while health officials said 42 people needed medical attention. 

*This story was compiled by Ahram Online

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.