Global News

Major rally held in Catalonia to demand release of separatists

Major rally held in Catalonia to demand release of separatists

At the cry of 'Freedom for political prisoners, ' one of the most said slogans by the participants, the march was seconded by representatives of Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra Republicana, the two largest groups in favor of the rupture with Spain.

The protest came six months after the first incarcerations of top Catalan separatist leaders for misuse of public funds, sedition and rebellion - which carries a prison sentence of 30 years and implies that a "violent uprising" took place - over their separatist push.

Alex de Ferrer, a 50-year-old IT specialist, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that he had made a decision to join the protest as jailing separatist leaders "only serves to manufacture separatists".

Police in Barcelona said that some 315,000 people had taken part in the demonstration.

The Catalan sections of CC.OO. and UGT defended their attendance to the mobilization, after considering that the serious dispute in the rich autonomous community of 7.5 million inhabitants must be resolved through dialogue and politics and not in the courts.

The secretary-general of the Catalan branch of UGT, Camil Ros, said that there had been tension among union members just as there was in the rest of Catalan society.

We will remind that the former head of the Catalan Generalitat left the prison in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein after the court agreed to release him on bail during the pendency of the request of Spain for his extradition.

The independence movement is "a bit decapitated" following the arrests of its leaders but "this is temporary", added de Ferrer, who supports leftist separatist party ERC, whose leader Oriol Junqueras is in jail.

Lawmakers defied court orders and held that a referendum on autonomy.

The rally was organized by the Catalan pro-independence groups and trade unions.

Catalonia has been without a government since late December, when pro-independence parties won another majority in parliamentary elections.

If a new leader in Catalonia is not elected by May 22, new regional elections will be held.