Catalan independence in 'matter of days'

Catalan independence in 'matter of days'”

"We are under observation day and night.What is that other than an authoritarian state?"

"Thanks to their irresponsible behaviour, those [Catalan] authorities have put the social identity of Catalonia and all Spain at risk", he said.

Thousands gathered outside the offices of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party (PP) in Barcelona and the Catalonia regional headquarters of the national police as police stood guard.

The vote has also been branded illegal as Catalonia's political leaders did not follow due political process to call the referendum, according to the Spanish government.

Catalan officials called on the European Union to step in.

Almost 900 people were hurt as police violently tried to enforce a Spanish court order suspending the vote, which the government had declared illegal.

"No society should accept a status quo it doesn't want, against its will, through force and beatings, and this can only be resolved with democracy", Puigdemont said in his BBC interview.

But amid an unexpectedly harsh response from Spanish police, turnout was only around 42%.

The region's leaders defied Madrid by holding a banned referendum on independence on Sunday.

APTOPIX Spain Catalonia

As pictures of heavily armoured Spanish police clubbing women on the ground stunned Europe on Sunday, the few governments that spoke out included those of Scotland, Slovenia, which emerged from the bloody collapse of Yugoslavia, and Belgium, where repeated rounds of devolution have averted a final split between French- and Dutch-speakers. He also appealed for worldwide mediation to help solve the growing crisis.

Catalonia's president, top regional leaders and more than 700 mayors in the region face charges of disobedience, secrecy, misuse of public funds, corruption and sedition, which could carry sentences of up to 15 years in prison if Spanish leaders decide to pursue them.

Catalonia's regional government on Wednesday mulled when to declare the region's independence from Spain, with some lawmakers saying it would happen next Monday, following the referendum on October 1 that the Spanish government and courts have declared illegal.

He has indicated that Catalonia could declare independence next week.

And while the constitutional crisis in Spain, the euro zone's fourth-biggest economy, has hit Spanish stocks and bonds, raising Madrid's borrowing costs, it has so far failed to have an adverse impact on the broader European market, or the Euro which has remained relatively steady in recent days.

The Catalan police - the Mossos d'Esquadra - have been placed under Madrid's control.

Most polling stations stayed open Sunday, he said, "because the security forces decided that it wasn't worth using force because of the consequences that it could have".

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who voted blank on Sunday, condemned police actions against the region's "defenseless" population, but Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said police had "acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way".

Demonstrators including students and young families filled the streets in the regional capital Barcelona waving red- and yellow-striped Catalan flags.

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