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In Pictures: Catalan protesters march on Barcelona airport after jail verdicts for separatists

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In Pictures: Catalan protesters march on Barcelona airport after jail verdicts for separatists
People walk on the highway towards El Prat airport in Barcelona on October 14, 2019 as thousands of angry protesters took to the streets after Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist l
17:23 CEST+02:00
Spontaneous protests erupted across Catalonia on Monday demanding the release of separatist leaders after they were handed stiff sentences by a Spanish court. Thousands of angry protesters marched on Barcelona's El Prat airport, where ugly clashes broke out with police.

Earlier on Monday Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid.

Within minutes of the ruling demonstrators had poured onto the streets of the Catalan capital, waving flags and blocking traffic over the conviction of the separatist leaders who organised a 2017 referendum banned by Madrid.

 "We have to mobilise and stick up for them ... in a way that has an impact, closing airports, stations, but always avoiding violence," Guich said. "Or at least, it won't be us that provokes it."

Following the verdict demonstrations got underway in Barcelona, including one on the city's main thoroughfare the Via Laietana with protesters demanding the prisoners release.

Crowds also gathered at Plaça San Jaume, the seat of the Catalan government in Barcelona. There were also reports of protesters putting barricades across train tracks and roads.

"I feel fury and a sense of powerlessness," said Joan Guich, a 19-year-old student protesting in Barcelona after Spain's Supreme Court jailed nine Catalan leaders jailed over a failed independence  bid.

"They have been convicted for an ideology which I agree with."

Democratic Tsunami, a group advocating more active forms of civil disobedience, sent a message to its 150,000 members urging them to march on Barcelona airport, 15km from the city centre.

 "The time has come to make our voice felt around the world. The goal: stop the activity of Barcelona's airport," it said.

Video images from the airport showed riot police clashing with protesters (see below) with reports of tear gas being fired inside the terminal.

Hundreds of passengers were caught up in the chaos, with many forced to walk along the highway with their luggage.

Metro and train access was briefly blocked and there were reports of numerous flights being cancelled. 

Passengers walk on the highway towards El Prat airport in Barcelona on October 14, 2019 as thousands of angry protesters took to the streets. AFP

 

 

 

AFP

 

AFP

 

 

A protester holds a Catalan pro-independence "Estelada" flag surrounded by other protesters at El Prat airport in Barcelona.AFP

 

Democratic Tsunami, a group advocating more active forms of civil disobedience, had urged demonstrators to hit the streets as soon as the verdicts were announced.

"Tomorrow everyone ready! When the verdict is out, the response will be immediate," said the group in a message to its roughly 150,000 followers on mobile messaging service Telegram.

Juli Cuellar, a 44-year-old office worker, said he believed the verdict was politically motivated. 

"Now all we have left is a life of civil and institutional disobedience," he told AFP, predicting "weeks of mobilisation".

The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, the region's two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups, have also called supporters to attend an evening rally. They have organised some of the largest separatist protests in recent years.

Several more protests are scheduled over the next few days across Catalonia, as well as a general strike on Friday.

 

 
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