Nine leaders of the Catalan independence movement were jailed on Monday for sedition over their role in a failed independence bid, sparking mass protests across the region.
The former deputy president of the region, Oriol Junqueras, who was also found guilty of misuse of public funds, was given the highest sentence of 13 years.
Thousands of protesters took to streets in several cities as the verdict was announced, where they were met by hundreds of extra riot police sent by Madrid.
More than 100 flights were cancelled at the city’s El Prat airport, and several others were delayed as activists clashed with police.
Police officers guarding the airport clashed with protesters, with officers using their batons and shooting foam bullets, and reportedly attacking journalists. At least 13 people received medical attention.
Highways across the region were blockaded, as well as the railway line in Girona between the Catalan capital and the border with France.
Catalonia’s current president, Quim Torra, said his government did not accept a verdict he described as an “insult to democracy [that showed] contempt for Catalan society”.
Flanked by members of the current Catalan government, Mr Torra said Catalans would continue to fight for independence. “Repression will never triumph over dialogue, democracy and self-determination.”
The verdicts will reignite the unresolved tension around Catalonian independence in time for next month’s general election, Spain’s fourth in as many years.
The case centred around the unsanctioned 2017 independence referendum, led by then-president Carles Puigdemont, and subsequent declaration of independence.
The Spanish prime minister yesterday made an appeal for unity.
"Following the Supreme Court decision we need to turn the page… through dialogue," Pedro Sanchez said, speaking in English.
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Shortly after Monday’s verdict, Spain said it had issued a European Arrest Warrant for Mr Puigdemont, who lives in self-imposed exile in Belgium.
Spain previously failed in its bid to have Mr Puigdemont extradited from Germany or Belgium.
On Monday he urged Catalans to fight on through “non-violent struggle and the defence of civil rights”.
Five members of the regional government were sentenced to between 12 and 10 and a half years in jail in verdict, while Carme Forcadell, who was speaker of the Catalan parliament at the time, received an 11-and-a-half-year term.
Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of two pro-independence civil society groups that organised large demonstrations, were handed sentences of nine years each for sedition.
All were acquitted of the most serious charge of rebellion, which carries a 25 year sentence.
Five former politicians were also found guilty of improperly siphoning money from the Catalan government to pay some of the costs of the independence campaign.
All nine of those handed prison sentences have been held in preventive custody for at least 18 months.
The main actions were organised by Tsunami Democràtic (Democratic tsunami), the group created to co-ordinate the pro-independence response to the Supreme Court verdict.
"We need to stop all activity [at the airport] so the world can see this injustice," tweeted Tsunami Democràtic at 1 pm, calling on pro-independence supporters demonstrating in the centre of Barcelona to start moving towards the airport in order to block air traffic. As train services were suspended and roads were soon blocked, many made the 3-hour journey by foot.
While Tsunami Democràtic eventually called off protests, thousands remained both at the airport and in the Barcelona centre, where they continued to clash with police well past midnight.
"We’ve started a cycle of non-violent civil disobedience," tweeted Tsunami Democràtic on Monday night. "The actions are over after fulfilling our objectives. Tomorrow, we’ll do it again, announcing a new challenge."