Catalan president Quim Torra finally condemned the violence as Barcelona and other towns descended into chaos again on Wednesday night, with protestors setting barricades on fire, burning trees, trash cans and cars.
Catalan pro-independence supporters had taken to the streets for the third day in a row to protest the sentencing of 9 leaders for the crime of sedition.
The scenes of riots and chaos were also widespread in major Catalan towns like Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.
Police sources said that protestors shot five pyrotechnic artifacts against a helicopter, and threw Molotov cocktails, acids, stones and other objects.
Officers responded with rubber bullets and charging at demonstrators, some of which in balaclavas. Some protestors denounced the police had used gas to dissuade them, but the law enforcement denied it.
In the middle of the chaos, at approximately 12.15am local time, the Catalan president Quim Torra made an official statement from the Catalan government HQ. He appeared on TV to deliver a statement condemning the violence.
‘This must stop now,’ he said. ‘There is no justification for burning cars, nor other acts of vandalism.’
He also stressed that ‘the independence movement is not and has never been violent.’
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez had warned that his government would not tolerate ‘violence taking over Catalonia’.
During the day on Wednesday, Quim Torra had been in the northern Girona region of Catalonia to take part in the first day of the Marches for Freedom protests organised by civil pro-independence groups, and he’d said he was ‘very proud of the civic spirit’ he had encountered there.
The protest involves five separate marches that left from five different Catalan cities on Wednesday, which will cover various stages and will be timed to arrive in Barcelona on Friday for a major demonstration against the sentences.
Torra’s presence at the march in Girona drew criticism from Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, who insisted that ‘the Catalan president’s place is to give explanations so as to reassure the public and put forward specific proposals for a way out of the stalemate’.
32 people were arrested during the third night of unrest across Catalonia on Wednesday, including 12 in Barcelona and 11 in Lleida.
Meanwhile, four out of the six of people arrested the previous night in Barcelona were sent to prison without bail for attacking the law enforcement officers.
The scenes of chaos were also widespread in major Catalan towns like Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. In all, 41 people required medical treatment, including a person with a traumatic head injury after being run over by a police van.
The Spanish government is to hold a special cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to assess the situation in Catalonia.