Spain’s Guardia Civil raids Catalan government offices

Spanish police stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia's regional government in the early hours of the morning

20 September 2017, 11:03am
A crowd of protesters gather outside the Catalan region's economy ministry after junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove was arrested by Spanish police (Photo: Reuters)
A crowd of protesters gather outside the Catalan region's economy ministry after junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove was arrested by Spanish police (Photo: Reuters)
Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia’s regional government, according to a Catalan government spokesman.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid’s interior ministry, is searching for evidence regarding the planned 1 October referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain’s constitutional court has deemed to be illegal.

In the early hours of the morning, armed officers from the Guardia Civil arrived at ministries, including the offices of economic affairs, foreign relations and the social affairs, said the spokesman.

The operation comes one day after documents related to the independence referendum were seized from Unipost offices, a private delivery firm, in the Catalan city of Terrasa.

At least 12 officials have been arrested as a result, reports Spanish media, including the chief aide to Catalonia’s deputy prime minister, Josep Maria Jove.

Pro-independence crowds gathered outside regional ministries, in support of the provincial government and in protest against the raids and searches.

The president of the province's national assembly, Jordi Sànchez, on Wednesday morning called for "peaceful resistance" to the police operation.

“The time has come. We resist peacefully. We come out to defend our institutions with non-violence,” he said in a post on social media.

Pro-separatist parties captured 47.6% of the vote in a September 2015 regional election in Catalonia billed as a proxy vote on independence, giving them a narrow majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament.

However, polls show that Catalonia’s roughly 7.5 million  residents are divided on independence.

A survey commissioned by the regional government in July showed 49.4% of Catalans were against independence while 41.1% were in favour. More than 70% of Catalans want a legal referendum on independence to settle the issue.