Thousands rally in Madrid against independence trial

Spanish police says there were around 18.000 people at the demonstration, but organizers claim they were 120.000 instead 

Demonstrators in Madrid protesting against independence trial (by Javier Barbancho)
Demonstrators in Madrid protesting against independence trial (by Javier Barbancho) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

March 16, 2019 05:46 PM

Thousands of people rallied in Madrid against independence trial on Saturday afternoon. More than 50 pro-independence groups and political parties called on people from across Spain to participate in a march for Catalonia’s "right to decide" in the Spanish capital.

While Spanish police said there were around 18.000 people at the demonstration, the organizers claimed they were about 120.000 insteadaccording to first estimates. The rally was called by independentist organizations and parties, mainly ANCÒmnium Cultural, Junts per CatalunyaEsquerra Repúblicana and CUP. It was also supported by several entities across Spain. 

More than 500 buses have traveled from Catalonia and across Spain to bring protesters to Madrid for the mass demonstration.

Starting at 6pm, the protest passed through Paseo de Prado – the symbolic and geographical heart of the Spanish capital – under the banners "Self-determination is not a crime" and "Democracy is about deciding".

Rights and sovereignty

A few away kilometers from El Prado, 12 Catalan pro-independence leaders have been on trial for five weeks at the Spanish Supreme Court, facing charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds, among others, for their role in the October 2017 referendum, which Spain deemed as illegal.

The Catalan associations behind this weekend's march – led by Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural, pro-independence movements whose leaders and former leaders are among those in the dock– have long argued that the trial against the 12 Catalan pro-independence leaders cannot be justified and that the Catalan government should have the legal freedom to choose its own sovereign future.