Spain accuses Catalan government of ‘inciting rebellion’

Spain's interior minister on Tuesday accused Catalonia's government of "inciting rebellion" after police sent to the region to block a weekend independence referendum were harassed by protesters.

Spain accuses Catalan government of 'inciting rebellion'
Protestors gather outside National Police headquarters in Barcelona during a general strike. Photo: AFP

“We see how day after day the government of Catalonia is pushing the population to the abyss and inciting rebellion in the streets,” Juan Ignacio Zoido said, adding that his government would take “all measures necessary to stop acts of harassment”.

Spanish national police have been driven out of their hotels in Catalonia by locals furious over police violence that marred the region's banned independence vote on Sunday, which separatist leaders organised despite strict orders from Madrid not to do so.

Hundreds of protesters gathered overnight outside a hotel in the seaside resort of Pineda de Mar, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) north of Barcelona where around 200 officers were staying.

READ MORE: Catalan hotels evict police as crowds protest violence at the polls

In a letter shared on social media, the hotel management said it had asked police officers to leave the hotel after being “obliged” to do so by local authorities on pain of being shut down.

A further 200 members of Spanish special forces and riot police in Calella, a coastal city also to the north of Barcelona, were told on Monday they would be evicted.

Protestors also rallied outside police stations in Catalonia, according to Spain's main police union SUP.

On Sunday riot police moved in on polling stations across the region to stop people from voting in a referendum deemed unconstitutional by the Spanish courts.   

AS-IT-HAPPENED: Clashes at polling stations as Catalans vote in referendum

Some officers ran baton charges and fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds.   

SUP spokesman Ramon Cosio said the welfare of officers was now under threat.

“They are fleeing from hotel to hotel, they are like rats who have to hide,” he said.   

He added that the state was losing control of security.     

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria branded the protests against police outside hotels and police stations “mafia behaviour”. 

READ ALSO: Catalans take to the streets as general strike shuts down region


Spain’s Civil Guard police officers allowed to have visible tattoos

Spain on Monday relaxed its policy banning officers from the country's oldest police force, the Guardia Civil, from exhibiting tattoos.

civil guard spain gun
The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use. Photo: Rafa Rivas/AFP

Officers will now be allowed to display tattoos anywhere on their bodies “as long as they do not contain expressions that violate constitutional values or harm the discipline or image of the force,” the interior minister said in a statement.

“For the first time visible tattoos will be allowed on uniformed officers,” it added.

On the other hand, the decree prohibits hoop earrings, spikes, plugs and other inserts when they are visible in uniform, “except regular earrings, for both male and female personnel”.

The Guardia Civil mainly patrols and investigates crimes in rural areas, while Spain’s National Police focuses on urban areas.

Last year Spain’s leftist government appointed a woman to head the force for the first time in its 177-year history.

The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use.

Los Angeles police are required to ensure that tattoos are not visible to the public while on-duty, while France’s Gendarmes police force also requires that they be covered.