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Three other defendants, who were also on trial for their involvement in the October 2017 referendum held in spite of a ban and a short-lived independence declaration, were found guilty only of disobedience and not sentenced to prison.
All defendants were acquitted of the gravest charge, rebellion, but leading separatists were quick to condemn the court’s decision and the jailed men sent out messages of defiance, urging people to take to the streets.
“This sentence is an attack on democracy and the rights of all citizens,” the head of the regional parliament Roger Torrent said. “Today we are all convicted, not just 12 people.”
Former head of Catalonia’s regional government, Carles Puigdemont, said the prison sentences were an “atrocity.”
In Barcelona, three main streets were blocked by protesters holding signs calling for “Freedom for political prisoners” and a crowd chanted “We’ll do it again” – a slogan used by separatist supporters who want to hold another referendum.
Protesters blocked train and metro access to the Barcelona airport and others temporarily halted traffic on the A2 highway, as well as on several regional roads across Catalonia, officials at the road traffic agency said.
The regional train network was interrupted in the separatist stronghold of Girona by people standing on the tracks, wrapped in pro-independence flags.
The Catalan independence drive attracted worldwide attention and triggered Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades and unnerved financial markets.
The ruling and its fallout is likely to color a national election on Nov. 10, Spain’s fourth in four years, and influence the direction taken by the separatist movement..
The jailed separatists said via social media that they would carry on their fight.
“Nine years in prison won’t end my optimism. Catalonia will be independent if we persist. Let us demonstrate without fear, let us move forward determinedly from non-violence to freedom,” said Jordi Sanchez, who was sentenced to nine years in jail. Sanchez was the leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) grassroots movement.
Protests for Catalonia’s independence have been largely peaceful over the past years but police sources have said authorities are prepared for any violence.
The regional head of Catalonia, separatist Quim Torra, called for an amnesty for all 12 leaders and said he would seek an urgent meeting with Spain’s King Felipe VI and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. However, Torra stopped short of repeating past weeks’ calls for civil disobedience.
Sanchez was quick to rebuff the demand for an amnesty, saying the sentences must be carried out.
“Today’s decision confirms the defeat of a movement that failed to gain internal support and international recognition,” he said in a televised address to the nation. He also called for dialogue, saying now was time for a new chapter over the Catalan issue.
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England dropped Sterling after Gomez altercation
England and Machester city player Raheem Sterling has been dropped ahead of Euro 2020 qualifer match against Montenegro.
England Football Association took to social media to confirm that Sterling had been dropped “as a result of a disturbance in a private team area”.
Sterling and Gomez had an on-field altercation during the Reds’ 3-1 Premier League victory at Anfield on Sunday.
But sterling has qunch the fire via his Instagram account, by stating “Both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on,”
“We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me.
“This is why we play this sport because of our love for it – me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a five to 10 second thing… it’s done, we move forward and not make this bigger than it
“Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday,” Sterling added.
England boss Gareth Southgate said on Monday: “Unfortunately the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw.
“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team.
“We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday. My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken.
“Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night.”
Groups criticise Kenya’s census figures
Groups has criticised the released Kenya’s population census figures stating that the results are not accurate.
It found that the total population of the country is now 47.6 million, nine million more than in 2009.
But some regions have experienced a decrease in population.
These outcomes can be hugely controversial because the size of the local population has important implications for the level of government funding they receive.
Kenya’s population is made up of many different ethnic groups, closely aligned to competing political parties.
The government has yet to release all the data on the ethnic composition of the country, but the changes in population in certain regions from this latest census have already caused arguments.
The outcome of such surveys can embolden or weaken claims made by groups for political representation or resources.
In one area of the north-east territories bordering Ethiopia and Somalia, the census indicates a decrease in the population, prompting local political leaders looking to retain funding for their provinces to question the veracity of the survey
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