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News Worms


Spain police raid Catalan government headquarters amid independence row

Spain police raid Catalan government headquarters amid independence row

Days ahead of planned vote for Catalan independence, the Spain government made its biggest move to stop it from happening as the police detained a dozen senior Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organising the vote. Catalan separatist lawmakers walked out of the chamber in response to his comments.

Spain's Constitutional Court banned the vote earlier this month after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it violated Spain's 1978 constitution, which states the country is indivisible.

The latest attempts by the police to stop the vote come after similar raids elsewhere.

Why is Spain cracking down? "I urge the Catalan President to comply with the law and reverse the decisions".

Several ministries in Barcelona were raided on Wednesday, including the economy, foreign affairs, telecoms, social affairs and presidency buildings. The Catalan high court says 20 people were being investigated for disobedience, embezzlement, and abuse of power related to the referendum.

The day before, they seized some 45,000 envelopes with the Catalan government's logo from a private delivery company in Terrassa, north-west of Barcelona.

The Spanish Government announced on Friday it would take over the payment of essential services and and public workers' salaries in Catalonia to prevent them from spending cash on the referendum.

Mr Jove is second-in-command to the region's vice president and economy chief, Oriol Junqueras.

How are Catalan leaders responding?

Carles Puigdemont described the raids as "a co-ordinated police assault" that showed that Madrid "has de facto suspended self-government and applied a de facto state of emergency" in Catalonia.

Demonstrations against the police action have been roiling ever since, as NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Madrid.

Several hundred people are protesting the arrests and shouting pro-independence slogans in different parts of Barcelona and other Catalan towns. "We will not allow it", he said.

Gabriel Rufian, a pro-Catalan MP in Madrid, told Rajoy to take his "dirty hands off Catalan institutions".

The wealthy region held a symbolic referendum back in November 2014, in which more than 80 percent of the 2.3 million people who cast ballots backed independence for Catalonia, according to Catalan officials.

But a survey commissioned by the regional government in July showed that 49.4 percent of Catalans were against independence while 41.1 percent were in favour.

Support for independence has grown over the past few years as Spain has endured a painful and protracted economic crisis.

The prosperous Catalonia region, whose capital is Barcelona, generates a fifth of Spain's economy. Anger over the detention of 14 regional government officials on September 20 was further compounded by an announcement that police had seized "close to 10 million ballot papers" destined for a vote deemed illegal by Madrid and the courts.

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