Massive march in Barcelona against jailing of Catalan separatist leaders

Over 350000 Catalans Flood Barcelona in Support of Independence Leaders

Over 350000 Catalans Flood Barcelona in Support of Independence Leaders

The slogan for the day was "For rights and freedoms, for democracy and cohesion, we want you home!" and this was welcomed by Mr Puigdemont and many of his supporters believe that this demonstration put paid to the idea that the call for independence was losing steam.

Police in Barcelona said some 315,000 people gathered in Catalonia's capital on Sunday to demand the release and freedom to return for a number of Catalan politicians who had been involved in the failed attempt to break away from the rest of Spain previous year.

Many chanted "Freedom for the political prisoners" as they marched along the Parallel Avenue, one of the city's main streets, many waving the red-and-yellow Catalan flag.

The presidents of the National Catalan Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, a Catalan cultural association that presses for Catalonia's self-determination, are among the separatists awaiting trial.

It is estimated that more than 300.000 people participated in the protest.

Spain's two leading labor unions support the protest despite the complaints from some members who don't want secession for Catalonia.

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Hundreds of buses brought protesters from across the wealthy northeastern region of Spain to Barcelona, the Catalan capital, for the march.

It is not the moment of trials or arrests, but of building bridges and finding a solution, assured the General Secretary of the UGT of Catalonia, Camil Ros. "It is time to build bridges and the Catalan problem can not be solved through the courts but by dialogue and politics".

Spanish prosecutors last week handed over new information to Germany they hope will prove the use of violence which would justify the rebellion charge against Puigdemont and their extradition request.

The rally comes six months after pro-independence activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, the last presidential candidate, were imprisoned.

The trade unionist deplored both the unilateral route, in clear allusion to secessionism, and the attitude of the central government of Mariano Rajoy, who in October assumed control of regional institutions, under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Pro-independence parties retained a slim majority in the regional parliament after an election in December.

Around 350,000 demonstrators clogged several main city arteries waving flags and wearing yellow in support of separatist leaders jailed for their role in the region's banned drive to split from Spain previous year.

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