Interior minister defends Catalan police amid resignation calls over extremist attacks
Miquel Buch under fire by pro-independence allies after officers failed to prevent violent clashes in Barcelona
With sectors of the independence movement calling for him to resign, Catalonia's interior minister, Miquel Buch, has said his department and the police "will not tolerate violent groups affecting the coexistence among Catalans."
The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has called for Buch to be removed from his post over the "disproportionate" conduct of the Mossos d'Esquadra police during the protests seen since independence leaders were sentenced to prison on Monday.
However on Friday, Buch called the incidents of aggression seen on the streets in recent nights "intolerable," and said the objective of the Mossos was to "guarantee the right to demonstrate and to pursue violent attitudes."
Acknowledging that people on both sides had suffered beatings during a clash between antifascists and far-right extremists on Thursday, Buch added that "the police prevented large clashes between far-right groups and violent protesters."
The interior minister also dismissed suggestions that there was any sympathy for violent groups within the Catalan police, after some footage showed an officer shaking hands with a far-right protester.
Buch also insisted that violent protesters had nothing to do with the independence movement, which he described as "civic" and "peaceful," and which he said is "reflected in the Marches for Freedom" currently making their way to Barcelona.