The Latest: Catalonia refuses to give police over to Spain

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2017 9:53 AM
The Latest: Catalonia refuses to give police over to Spain

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on the conflict between the Spanish government and officials in the country's Catalonia region over plans for a referendum on Catalan independence (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Catalonia's top security official says the regional government is refusing to hand over control of a regional police force to Spanish central authorities who are trying to stop a referendum on independence.

The announcement by the Catalan interior chief Joaquim Forn followed a move by Spain's Interior Ministry to take over coordinating all policing efforts to stop the Oct. 1 Catalan independence vote that the Spanish government considers illegal.

The measure would mean that Madrid would send direct orders to the regional Mossos d'Esquadra police, who have been criticized for not cracking down hard enough on preparations for the vote.

Forn said the chief of the Mossos d'Esquadra had expressed his opposition to the measure during a meeting Saturday with the top state prosecutor in Catalonia and chiefs of two other national police forces, the National Police and the Civil Guard.

Forn says "we denounce the attempt by the state to intervene in the police forces of Catalonia."


2:20 p.m.

Spain's Interior Ministry says a prosecutor has asked the government to coordinate law enforcement efforts to impede a planned referendum on Catalonia's secession from Spain.

The Interior Ministry says the top prosecutor for Catalonia met on Saturday with officials of the Catalan regional police, the National Police and the Civil Guard in Barcelona to inform them of the request.

The Catalan police are the largest police force in the region and have been criticized for not being aggressive enough in cracking down on the Oct. 1 vote.

The civilian head of the Catalan force is part of the pro-secession regional government that is pushing ahead with plans for the vote despite its suspension by Spain's Constitutional Court.

The Interior Ministry says the prosecutor's request does not mean the federal government is "taking command" of the Catalan police. The ministry says the move is designed to enhance coordination.


1:20 p.m.

Spanish media report that several hundred students have spent the night inside a Barcelona university to protest the government's efforts to stop a referendum over Catalonia's secession from the country.

The protesters have said on social media that pro-independence politicians are expected to give talks at Barcelona University on Saturday.

Jordi Vives, a spokesman for the students, told Catalan public television: "We are showing that as students we have a part to play and that for now we are staying put."

The remaining students were hold-outs from a group of about 2,000 that gathered in and around the university Friday. Several hundred occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers.

Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended the Oct. 1 vote while judges assess its legality.