08:32 GMT +321 November 2019
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    Quim Torra

    Catalan Leader Quim Torra Urges New Independence Vote Amid Barcelona Protests

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    Catalonia, Spain's northeastern region, has been embroiled in demonstrations over the past three days in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to imprison nine Catalan independence leaders for their attempt to implement the region's breakaway from Spain in 2017.

    Catalan regional head Quim Torra called for a new referendum to determine the status of Catalonia as he spoke to the regional parliament on Thursday.

    Torra dismissed claims suggesting that the Catalan pro-independence movement resorts to violent means, noting that there was a "false narrative" surrounding it.

    Earlier this month, Spain's Supreme Court ruled on the cases of 12 politicians who were involved in orchestrating the October 2017 referendum, which Madrid slammed as illegal, handing them prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years.

    The move sparked massive protests with thousands of people taking to the streets throughout the country. The demonstrations soon turned violent as rioters clashed with police. A total of 131 people have reportedly been injured in the clashes so far.

    People holding an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) and pictures of Catalan politicians as they walk through Via Laetana Avenue during a protest after a verdict in a trial over a banned independence referendum, in Barcelona, Spain October 14, 2019
    © REUTERS / RAFAEL MARCHANTE
    People holding an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) and pictures of Catalan politicians as they walk through Via Laetana Avenue during a protest after a verdict in a trial over a banned independence referendum, in Barcelona, Spain October 14, 2019

    Catalonia has been seeking to secede from Spain for decades. On 1 October 2017, the region held a referendum in which 90 per cent of those who voted supported the region’s independence from Spain. Turnout was, however, less than 50 per cent. Madrid declared the referendum illegal and arrested several pro-independence leaders.

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    clashes, Protests, referendum, Spain, Catalonia
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