Spanish police raid Catalan government buildings

Spanish police raid Catalan government buildings

Spanish police raid Catalan government buildings

A ministry statement said police also confiscated polling station signs and documents for voting officials in a raid Wednesday on a warehouse in a small town outside Barcelona. Arresting officials from an elected government risks further polarising Catalan society between those who want independence and those who do not.

The armed units, from the Guardia Civil, a force under the command of the Spanish interior and defence ministries, arrived at about 8AM on Wednesday (20 September) at the semi-autonomous region's economy, foreign affairs, labour, and social affairs ministry buildings in Barcelona, Spanish media said.

"Voting is not a crime", said Marc Solsona, mayor of the town of Mollerussa, one of almost 750 mayors facing charges of civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds, as he left the state prosecutor's office in Barcelona.

Tension continued to rise in the Catalan region of Spain on Wednesday following a series of police operations directed against the organization of the Catalan Independence referendum.

He said the question of legality was "an internal issue for the Spanish and Catalan people", but added that democracy meant "to respect the will of the people".

According to a poll conducted by the regional government in July, 49 percent of Catalans were against independence and 41 percent were in favor.

The constitution states that the unity of the Spanish nation is "unbreakable" and that only the central government has the power to call a referendum on any matter.

Catalan pro-independence supporters have scuffled with Spanish Civil Guard officers escorting a government official arrested as part of a crackdown by national authorities on Catalonia's plans to hold a secession referendum.

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The referendum, scheduled for October 1, and which the Spanish Constitutional Court has declared to be illegal.

Police and judicial authorities gave no details of the operation, saying a judge had placed a secrecy order on it.

Catalonia's leader has accused Madrid of imposing a "de facto state of emergency" in the Spanish region and said the arrests were a "shameful attack" on its autonomy.

In central Barcelona, thousands gathered near Jove's office, many draped in red and yellow Catalan flags, chanting "Independence!"

The Spanish constitutional court has said the referendum would be illegal.

Madrid has taken several other steps to prevent the Catalan referendum from going forward, including threatening to arrest mayors who facilitate the vote.

Catalonia's elected autonomous regional government, the Generalitat, had called the referendum after pro-independence parties were able to form an administration following elections in 2015.

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