A SPANISH court has sent two senior pro-independence activists to prison, without bail, who are being detained on sedition charges.
The ruling has heightened tensions between Madrid and Cataluña again with protests breaking out in Barcelona.
Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez are accused of stirring up major demonstrations in the run-up to the controversial independence referendum on 1 October which Madrid regards as illegal.
The two are presidents of the pro-independence groups Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly
They are being investigated over a protest on 20 September in which a crowd blocked Civil Guard officers inside a building in Barcelona, Catalonia’s regional capital.
Protests broke out in Barcelona as news of their imprisonment spread.
After the High Court ruling the Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said, “The state is playing at provocation.”
Secretary general of Omnium Cultural, Jordi Bosch, said: “I’m calling for Catalan society to peacefully protest.”
Hundreds of independence supporters gathered outside Catalan government offices, singing the region’s hymn and holding signs that read “freedom for political prisoners”.
A video recorded by Cuixart before his detention was released last night on Twiter in which he said: “If you’re watching this video, it’s because the state has decided to deny me my freedom.”
He tells separatists to “never lose hope because the people of Catalonia have earned their future”.
The activist added that his organisation would work “underground” and peacefully to further their cause.
— Jordi Cuixart (@jcuixart) October 16, 2017
Yesterday (Monday) the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont failed to say whether he had declared independence or not.
Madrid wanted an answer by 10am but, instead, Puigdemont wrote a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calling for a meeting “as soon as possible” and for talks to take place over the next two months.
Rajoy had warned that Madrid will suspend Catalonia’s autonomy if independence was declared.
“You still have time to answer clearly and simply,” said Mr Rajoy warning that weeks of instability were damaging the Spanish economy.
Spain has now given the Catalan leader until 10am on Thursday to clarify his position.
Mr Puigdemont, hit our at the government on Twitter following news of Mr Sánchez and Mr Cuixart’s detention writing, “Spain jails Catalonia’s civil society leaders for organising peaceful demonstrations. Sadly, we have political prisoners again.”
— Ramon Tremosa ? (@ramontremosa) October 16, 2017