Thousands rally in Madrid, urge jailing of deposed Catalan leader

2017-10-28 16:28
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. (Manu Fernandez, AP)

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. (Manu Fernandez, AP)

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Madrid - "Prison for Puigdemont," shouted thousands of people in central Madrid, gathered under a giant Spanish flag on Saturday in anger at Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence under secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont.

As music blared from giant speakers - from British band Coldplay to Spanish singer Manolo Escobar's "Y viva Espana" ("And long live Spain" in Spanish) - pro-unity protesters banded together on the square.

Unilateral independence

Unhappy with Catalonia's secession bid, many also directed anger at Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whom they accuse of having been too soft on the region's separatist leaders.

The Catalan parliament on Friday declared unilateral independence.

Rajoy replied by axing Puigdemont and his executive, dissolving parliament, and calling snap December 21 regional elections to quash what he termed an "escalation of disobedience.

Spanish prosecutors have announced they will next week file charges of "rebellion" against Puigdemont - a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Holding flags

Near the square, a large banner proclaiming: "Spain doesn't surrender" hung from a building occupied by the far-right, xenophobic group Hogar Social.

People leant out of windows and cheered as dozens of protesters holding flags of the Spanish Legion, an army unit, and the small, far-right party National Democracy marched up, flanked by police.

Read more on:    mariano rajoy  |  carles puigdemont  |  spain

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