Pro-Puigdemont demonstrators block roads in Catalonia

Pro-independence demonstrators took to the streets of Barcelona after Carles Puigdemont’s arrest. (AFP pic)

BARCELONA: Demonstrators blocked main roads in Catalonia on Tuesday to protest the arrest in Germany of the region’s former president Carles Puigdemont and the jailing of other secessionist leaders in Spain.

Regional road transport authorities said traffic was closed on Tuesday morning on the A7 motorway near the French border and the national N340 that links Catalonia with Spain’s southeastern coast.

The two main access roads into Barcelona were also closed before the blockades were lifted.

The protests were called by the radical Committees for the Defense of the Republic, set up just before Catalonia held a referendum on independence on October 1 that was banned by the courts.

“With the latest jailings and the arrest of president Carles Puigdemont, it seems clear that we have crossed a point of no return,” it said in a statement on Monday announcing a wave of protests.

About 90 people were slightly injured during pro-Puigdemont protests in Barcelona on Sunday, including 22 police officers.

Puigdemont was arrested on Sunday after he crossed the border into Germany from Denmark, under a European warrant issued by Spain.

He had spent five months on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

His detention marks the latest chapter in Catalonia’s quest for independence that has bitterly divided Catalans and triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

Aside from Puigdemont, nine other Catalan secessionist leaders are in jail in Spain over the region’s failed bid for independence.