Spanish police arrest 9 Catalan activists, seize substances

Spanish police arrest 9 Catalan activists suspected of planning violent acts

MADRID -- Spanish prosecutors called for rebellion and terrorism charges to be leveled against nine activists linked to pro-Catalan independence groups who were arrested Monday on suspicion they may have been preparing to commit violent acts, possibly with explosives.

Police said they carried out 10 raids and seized an abundance of material and substances they believe could be used to make explosives.

If confirmed, it would be a considerable blow to Catalonia's mainstream independence movement, which is proud of its overwhelmingly peaceful approach since it began gathering momentum in 2011.

National Court prosecutors said the raids were aimed at gathering evidence to demonstrate the CDR's "advanced preparation for terrorist acts in connection with their secessionist aims."

The police statement gave few details, saying there was a judicial secrecy blanket order on the case.

The prosecutors said the operation was aimed at aborting expected CDR activities around the anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2017, illegal independence referendum in Catalonia and publication of the trial verdict. They said the CDR's activities could have caused "irreparable damage given the advanced state of their preparations."

The CDR issued a statement saying the arrests and raids were a bid to "silence" them and called for protests against what they described as Spanish state repression. In response, more than 100 people gathered in the Catalan town of Sabadell and shouted insults at police carrying out one of the raids.

Spain's two main center-right parties welcomed the police operation while two Catalan pro-independence parties demanded that caretaker Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska appear in parliament to explain the operation.

Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Quim Torra, criticized the arrests.

"Repression continues to be the sole response of the Spanish state," Torra tweeted. "They are trying to construct a tale of violence prior to the sentences. They won't achieve it. The independence movement is, and always will be, pacific."