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Catalonia protests: President calls for talks with Spain

By
Sommer Brokaw
Thousands of people gather at Urquinaona square in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday to protest against the Supreme Court's recent prison sentence against nine Catalan pro-independence leaders. Photo by Enric Fontcuberta/EPA-EFE
Thousands of people gather at Urquinaona square in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday to protest against the Supreme Court's recent prison sentence against nine Catalan pro-independence leaders. Photo by Enric Fontcuberta/EPA-EFE

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Catalan President Quim Torra called Saturday for negotiations with the Spanish government after the fifth night of protests over Spain sentencing nine separatist leaders to prison earlier this week.

At a news conference, Torra urged Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to "set day and time for a negotiating table."

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"It is their responsibility and obligation," Torra added. "It is more urgent than ever. We have long demanded it for a political resolution to the conflict."

In response, the Spanish government said that Torra had to "strongly condemn" the violence.

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Torra repeated his condemnation of the violence, which earlier in the week he blamed on infiltrators. The fifth night of unrest broke out after more than 500,000 pro-independence protesters gathered in Barcelona for a peaceful march earlier in the day.

"Violence has never been our flag," Torra said, adding that the way forward was for Spain to negotiate, "to open a dialogue to find a democratic solution."

Still, Torra, a pro-independence leader, was criticized for not condemning the violence earlier. He had called for civil disobedience before sending police forces in to subdue it.

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Sixty-four people were detained and 89 people were injured as violence and fires broke out Friday evening, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

The spokesman told CNN that more than 300 people have been detained since protests began Monday and nine remain in custody.

About 200 police officers have been injured and 171 vehicles have been damaged, he added.

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Two days earlier, as the fourth day of protests was underway, Torra pushed for another independence referendum by the end of the next Parliament term in 2021.

The Spanish Supreme Court sentenced the nine Catalan separatists to between nine and 13 years in prison for attempting to declare independence after a referendum two years ago.

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