Death threats as Catalan referendum debate turns ugly

23 September, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • The Latest: Police arrests Catalan crackdown

The central government is waging myriad legal battles to halt the October 1 referendum called by the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia, in northeastern Spain.

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. Police said up to 40,000 people gathered outside the devolved government's economy ministry in the city, which was searched.

People in Scotland have taken to the streets to show their support for Catalonia's independence referendum due to be held in early October, hours after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticized the Spanish government for cracking down on the vote organizers.

An Interior Ministry statement said the extra police would provide backing for the Catalan regional police, who are also under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum. It did not say how many extra police would be sent.

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Thousands of independence supporters have been gathering in front of the high court in Barcelona and are threatening to continue until the officials are freed.

Hundreds of students have entered the main building of Barcelona University and have occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers. The Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.

Catalans have launched a hate campaign against Spaniards who oppose the controversial independence referendum, sending photographs of nooses to several councillors and, in one case, calling for a woman to be gang-raped. A pro-independence group says that about 2,500 supporters were attending the protest in Hospitalet. Spain's Constitutional Court said September 21 it will begin fining 22 electoral board members appointed to oversee Catalonia's planned independence referendum between $7,200 and $14,400 a day as long as they fail to comply with a court order suspending the ballot.

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