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Catalan mayors demand freedom in Brussels for “political prisoners”

Ⓒ AFP – Emmanuel DUNAND – | Catalan separatist mayors hold a banner that reads ‘freedom for political prisoners’ during a rally in front of the headquarters of the European Commission, this Tuesday, November 7 in Brussels

Around 200 Catalan mayors traveled to Brussels Tuesday to ask for “freedom” for former members of the dismissed Catalan government, who are in prison in Spain as a result of the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia.

“We want Brussels to listen to us and get our comrades out of jail, this can not be, we are democrats,” said José Fuentes, mayor of Pont de Molins, a small town of 500 inhabitants located about 20 kilometers from the city. border with France.

The delegation left during the morning of the Barcelona airport of El Prat towards the Belgian capital, where the dismissed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and four members of his government are waiting for the Belgian magistrates to resolve the request for delivery made by Spanish justice.

MEP Josep Maria Terricabras, from the ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) independence party, told reporters that the intention is for the aldermen to meet Puigdemont as well, although he could not confirm details of that eventual meeting.

“We would like very much of course to meet with the government in exile, we understand that it is the legitimate government of Catalonia,” Francesc Barbero, councilor of Flix (3,600 inhabitants), told AFP, for whom it is “sad” that “in 2017 in the middle of the EU “they have to catch a plane to see themselves” with the elected government at the polls “.

Under Catalan independence flags, the mayors concentrated in the European quarter of Brussels, between the headquarters of the community executive and the Council of the European Union, shouting “Llibertat!” (freedom) and behind the banner: “Freedom political prisoners”.

A few tens of meters from the demonstration, about 15 people demonstrated by the unity of Spain with flags of this EU country and the cry of “Long live Spain!”. The Belgian police watched over the security between both concentrations.

“I am pure Catalan, born here [in Belgium] and I come for the unity of Spain,” said Maria Virgili, 61, for whom the presence of Puigdemont in Brussels “comes to mess with the flamingos”. “We do not need to have that mess,” he added.

At the initiative of the Association of Independent Municipalities (AMI) and the Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM), the mayors are planning an event in the afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR) to “denounce the judicial and ideological persecution that The representatives of the Catalan government and people suffer. ”

Anna Martinez, mayor of Santa Coloma de Cervelló (1,000 inhabitants), estimated that the European institutions “would be of great help as mediation” and “to demonstrate what Spain is doing with its justice.”

With the Puigdemont executive dismissed after the unilateral declaration of independence, suspended by the Spanish justice system, it is the central government that now manages Catalonia until the holding of regional elections on December 21.

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