Protests erupt in Barcelona after Catalan leaders jailed

Protests erupt in Barcelona after Catalan leaders jailed

He is the third candidate to be chosen by the main pro-independence parties since December's regional election, after the judiciary blocked the first two choices for the post: former president Carles Puigdemont and former rank-and-file independence leader Jordi Sànchez. The protesters are called as "Mossos" in Spain.

Puigdemont, who is himself in self-imposed exile in Belgium, also criticized a Spanish judge's decision to charge him and other 12 Catalan separatists with rebellion on Friday.

Spain's supreme court has remanded in custody five Catalan politicians, including the candidate for president of the region, Jordi Turull, for their alleged involvement in last autumn's failed independence bid.

Thirteen Catalan separatist leaders face 30 years in jail after being charged with rebellion, an unprecedented legal decision in modern Spain.

Llarena's prison orders bring the total number of jailed separatist Catalan leaders to nine.

They include Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan vice-president, and Jordi Sánchez, who was nominated to lead the Catalan government but dropped the bid after the Spanish authorities refused to release him to attend an investiture ceremony.

Other separatist figures were already in custody or had gone into exile overseas.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took over its regional government after it unilaterally declared independence following the October plebiscite.

Rovira ignored the summons and announced she was taking "the road to exile". Arrimadas accused them of worsening the political showdown with Spain.

A calmer rally took place in Catalonia Square, in the city centre.

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According to Barcelona health authorities, at least 24 people requested medical help, a lot of them for bruises, following scuffles with police.

Catalan television aired footage of more crowds in towns in the region, including Vic and Tarragona.

However, pro-Union Catalans mostly boycotted the ballot, and turnout was less than 50 per cent.

Llarena said he considered that the current "attack on the State" was of a "gravity. without comparison in neighbouring democracies".

Rovira was only charged with rebellion for the attempt to make Catalonia independent of Spain.

Supreme court judge Pablo Llarena said those imprisoned were flight risks and that there was also a risk they would offend again. If they can not agree to a government in two months, another regional election will be held.

With numerous leaders overseas or in jail, the separatists have struggled to re-organise or even remain in politics.

Rovira, who did not specify where she was headed, is the seventh separatist to flee overseas to escape charges.Separatist parties won regional elections in December called by Madrid after they attempted to secede, retaining their absolute majority in parliament. They will be replaced by party members.

Turull, the only candidate, is not even guaranteed a win in a second round scheduled for Saturday, where he would require a simple majority from the 135-seat Catalan parliament to be elected.

Mr Turull is among former officials facing possible rebellion charges over the regional parliament's failed attempt past year to break away from Spain.

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