Thousands protest arrests by Spain over Catalonia vote

A protestor holds up an Estelada (Catalan independence flag) in front of a line of Spanish national police who surrounded the leftist Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Thousands gathered Thursday at the gates of Catalonia’s judicial body in Barcelona to demand the release of a dozen officials arrested in connection with a vote on independence that Spanish authorities are challenging as illegal.

The demonstrators answered a call by pro-independence civic groups to stage long-term street protests against the police surprise crackdown one day earlier.

Police seized 10 million ballot papers and arrested at least 12 people, mostly Catalan government officials, suspected of coordinating the referendum.

Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras acknowledged that the crackdown had disrupted the referendum plans.

“It’s evident that we won’t be able to vote like we have done in the past,” Junqueras told broadcaster TV3.