Violent Catalan poll over as Spanish PM says ‘We did what we had to do’

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Neil Mackay/Twitter

POLLING stations have closed across Cataluña after police violence marred the region’s illegal independence referendum.

More than 760 people were injured during the clashes according to the Catalan health department.

At least nine National Police and two Guardia Civil officers were also hurt, and Barcelona football club were forced to play their league match against Las Palmas behind closed doors amid the chaos.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave a televised speech after the referendum ended at 8pm.

“We did what we had to do, acting with the law and only with the law,” he said.

“There has been no referendum, merely a staged event.

“It was a premeditated and conscious attack, to which the State has reacted with calmness and serenity.”

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who the national government is blaming for the brutal scenes, said: “The external image of the Spanish state has continued to worsen and today reached a level of shame that will accompany it forever.”

It comes as six Catalan courts have been ordered to probe their own Mossos d’Esquadra police force for failing to close schools and prevent the vote following complaints from Barcelona, El Vendrell (Tarragona), La Seu d’Urgell (Lleida), Lleida, Cerdanyola del Valles (Barcelona) and Santa Coloma de Gramenet.

But the Generalitat de Cataluña regional council responded by filing charges against the National Police and Guardia Civil.

A number of videos circulating on social media show Mossos d’Esquadra officers and Catalan fire fighters actively arguing with their Guardia Civil counterparts or forming a line in front of angry crowds.

The poll itself has been called into question after Spanish police occuppied the region’s telecommunications hub, forcing a last-minute change of plan whereby people were able to vote in any school thanks to a swiftly-designed universal census system.

The announcement came just 45 minutes before polling stations opened at 8am and drew a quick response from the Guardia Civil, who succeeded in partially blocking the application.

A statement from the Interior Ministry said that the latter move would allow individuals to vote more than once and without being on the civil register, a flaw seemingly demonstrated by cultural association Sociedad Civil Catalana and a journalist from TV station Telecinco.

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