What happened in Catalonia on Monday?

A chronological account of the protests and political reactions following the announcement of the prison sentences for Catalan leaders

Police officers clash with pro-independence protesters at Barcelona airport on Monday (by Miquel Codolar)
Police officers clash with pro-independence protesters at Barcelona airport on Monday (by Miquel Codolar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 15, 2019 03:30 PM

It was a very intense day in Catalonia on Monday, with the country making headlines worldwide throughout the day. Here's a short chronological explanation of why that was the case.

Jailed leaders' verdict

At 9:30 am the much-anticipated verdict on the 2017 Catalan referendum leaders was officially released after having been leaked to the press.

Nine leading politicians and activists were sentenced to crimes including sedition with sentences ranging from 9 to 13 years in jail. They were barred from office for the length of their prison sentences, while three more avoided prison but were also disqualified and fined.

On the spot protests

By 10:30 am, thousands of people had already taken to the streets across Catalonia to protest against the judges' decision, with public servants and students taking the lead at the beginning.

Within an hour, Barcelona's key avenues were already blocked, and by noon, there were 25,000 people demonstrating at Plaça Catalunya, one of the city's main squares.

"An act of vengeance": verdict sparks outcry

Minutes after the verdict was announced, most of the jailed leaders had already reacted, with comments including "injustice has been served." Shortly before noon, Catalonia's president made an official statement calling the verdict "act of vengeance and not justice." Pro-referendum parties and some civil society entities, like FC Barcelona, also rejected the decision.

Calls to respect verdict from Madrid and Barcelona

In the early afternoon, Spain's acting president urged everyone to accept the verdict and said that his cabinet would guarantee security, hinting at the fact that he would not pardon the convicted officials.

Unionist parties throughout Spain and Catalonia also called on the independence movement to respect the decision. "Impunity does not exist," said the People's Party leader Pablo Casado.

The verdict's impact reverberates across Europe

International reactions did not take long to unfold. Scotland’s first minister expressed her support for the convicted officials while the EU Commission said that the decision must be respected. The news made headlines worldwide, and some media outlets took sides. "The draconian jailings shame Spain," wrote UK's 'The Guardian.'

Protest at Barcelona airport

At 1 pm, an anonymous group with over 200,000 followers on Instagram, Tsunami Democràtic, called on protesters to move from the center of Barcelona to the airport. Within minutes, all public transport or private vehicle routes to the airport were already flooded with people. The police ordered the interruption of train and underground services – but this did not prevent protesters from reaching the area, with some even walking several kilometers.

Airport disrupted and clashes with police

Protesters managed to disrupt the airport, with over 100 flights canceled on Monday and another 45 on Tuesday due to Monday's 10-hour rallies, which were called off at 10 pm. Shortly afterward most of the demonstrators were gone, but only after hours of clashes with the Catalan and Spanish police.

131 protesters and 47 police officers were treated for injuries across Catalonia, most of them at Barcelona's airport.