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Catalonia Protesters Demand Release of Separatist Leaders

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Protesters with ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flags
Protesters with ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flags pack the University square during a one-day strike in Barcelona, Spain.
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Barcelona, October 18: Tens of thousands of people protested Tuesday night in Barcelona against the Spanish government’s detention of two Catalonia separatist leaders.

The demonstrators carried candles and banners demanding the release of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who are being held on possible sedition charges.

Prosecutors accuse Cuixart of the Omnium Cultural movement and Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly of provoking violence against police during a pro-independence march last month.

Catalan leaders have called the two political prisoners, which the government denies.

Earlier Tuesday, Spain’s top court ruled Catalonia’s independence referendum was illegal, saying that regional law backing the vote violated Spain’s constitution.

The Catalan government had passed the “self-determination referendum law” on September 6. Spain’s high court said the law must be suspended temporarily as it assessed the Spanish government’s opposition to it, but Catalonia went ahead with the referendum on October 1.

According to court regulations, the suspension was to last five months while judges come up with a ruling, but the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia claimed that the universal right to self-determination outweighs Spain’s laws.

Catalan government spokesperson, Jordi Turull, told reporters Tuesday Catalonia would not “surrender” its secession bid and reiterated calls for talks with Madrid on what he called “a democratic mandate” for independence.

Spain has given Catalonia until Thursday to reverse any moves it has made to secede or face direct rule from Madrid.

Catalonia, Spain’s most prosperous region, is home to 7.5 million people. Its capital, Barcelona, is one of Europe’s major tourist attractions. Catalonia has its own language and distinct culture and is deeply divided over independence.

The Catalan government said that 90 percent of Catalans who participated in the October 1 referendum voted for independence from Spain. Many opponents of independence boycotted the vote, reducing turnout to around 43 percent of eligible voters.(VOA)

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Catalan Former Leader Faces Extradition Threat Again

Catalonia's former leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday faced fresh threats of extradition from Germany, where a regional prosecutor's office has requested that he be sent to Spain to face charges of rebellion.

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Activists protest with a giant Catalan flag
Activists protest with a giant Catalan flag during a mass rally against Catalonia's declaration of independence, in Barcelona, Spain. VOA

Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday faced fresh threats of extradition from Germany, where a regional prosecutor’s office has requested that he be sent to Spain to face charges of rebellion.

The Spanish judiciary had sent new documents to German authorities regarding the charges being issued against Puigdemont, meaning the Schleswig-Holstein regional prosecution has requested that an extradition request issued by Spain be considered again by courts, sources from the prosecutor’s office told Efe news.

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The regional court had previously refused to extradite Puigdemont on rebellion charges and was studying whether to hand him over to Spain to face trial over alleged misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont is wanted in Spain for an investigation into possible rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for his alleged role in Catalonia’s separatist referendum and subsequent declaration of independence, deemed unconstitutional by the Spanish judiciary.

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He fled to Belgium before he could be arrested but was later detained in Germany. (IANS)

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