Street violence escalated in Barcelona late on Wednesday, as protesters set cars on fire and threw acid at police officers in a third night of unrest following the imprisonment this week of nine pro-independence leaders for their roles in the failed 2017 push for regional independence. Protestors were mostly young and seemed ready to confront the police. Chanting “oppressors out” and “the streets will always be ours”.
Riot police engaged in a running battle with angry protesters outside Barcelona’s airport Monday after Spain’s Supreme Court convicted 12 separatist leaders of illegally promoting the wealthy Catalonia region’s independence and sentenced nine of them to prison. Officers fired foam bullets and used batons against thousands of protesters who converged on the airport after the verdict was announced in Madrid.
Spain’s Supreme Court has ruled that the remains of dictator Francisco Franco should be exhumed. It backed the Socialist government’s plan to move the remains from a state mausoleum to a less controversial site. An appeal by Franco’s family against the exhumation and proposing an alternative site was rejected. The issue has divided opinion in Spain, which remains haunted by the Franco era.
A German family of four were among seven people killed when a helicopter and an ultralight plane collided mid-air over the Spanish island of Majorca. The debris came down on farmland near Inca, in the north of the popular tourist island off the east coast. The German couple and their two children were in the helicopter, which belonged to Rotorflug, a German firm.
An international alert has been issued by the Spanish government amid the country’s biggest ever outbreak of listeria, which has affected 150 people and killed a 90-year-old woman. The health ministry has said it is checking a further 523 suspected cases. Most of the confirmed cases are in the south of the country in Andalusia, the region where a packaged pork plant believed to be connected with the outbreak is located.
About 8,000 people have been evacuated as wildfires rip through Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. The fires, which started on Saturday, are advancing on two fronts in a mountainous area of the island. Ten planes and helicopters, as well as about 700 firefighters on the ground including 200 from the military, are being deployed. Efforts to tackle the fires are being hampered by high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity, officials say.
A former leader of the Basque terrorist group Eta has been arrested in France after spending more than 16 years on the run, the Spanish government said on Thursday. Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea Bengoetxea, better known as Josu Ternera, was once Eta’s political chief. Eta, which stands for “Basque homeland and freedom”, killed more than 800 people in more than four decades of violence aimed at establishing an independent Basque state. It abandoned its armed struggle in 2011 and formally dissolved itself last year.
Spain’s ruling socialist party won the most seats in the country’s parliament Sunday but must seek support from smaller parties in order to stay in power. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had won 29 percent of the vote and captured 123 seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies. To remain in office, Sánchez will have to form a governing alliance with smaller parties, including the far-left United We Can, which lost 29 seats from the last election.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was toppled by a corruption scandal Friday, becoming the first leader in Spain’s modern democracy to lose a vote of no-confidence in Parliament. Rajoy’s demise paves the way for Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the main opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and who tabled the motion to unseat him, to become next Prime Minister. Rajoy’s fall follows years of corruption allegations against his Popular Party.
Following the issue of a European Arrest Warrant by Spain and arrest in Germany, former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will be released on bail after a German court rejected ‘rebellion’ as grounds for extradition. The court said proceedings to extradite Puigdemont on corruption charges can continue. Puigdemont’s bail is set at 75,000 euros.