After about 844 people were injured in the riots in Catalonia, Spanish Prime Minister Mario Rajoy claimed that the referendum vote was not valid: “The leaders of Catalonia knew they were acting against the law.” He even praised the policemen, despite the harsh violence against civilians: “They were doing their job.”

Riots in Catalonia

Riots in Catalonia Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

At least 844 people were evacuated to hospitals following clashes with the Catalan police during Sunday’s controversial independence referendum. Despite the riots, which drew international criticism, Spain’s Prime Minister Rajoy praised the police: “They were doing their job- to uphold the law,” he said. This evening (Sunday), he claimed that “there was no referendum- the people of Catalonia were misled so that they would take part in an illegal vote.”

According to estimates, about three million voters turned up at the polls despite the Spanish government’s attempts to prevent the referendum from taking place. Hundreds of policemen were sent to Catalonia to close polling stations and prevent the arrival of voters.

Clashes with Catalan police

Clashes with Catalan police Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Rajoy said that the referendum was part of “a strategy against the legality of the Spanish government and democracy.” According to him, the Catalan public “did not want to participate in the referendum,” and that “the leaders knew that the referendum was illegal, but they continued anyway. We have to return harmony to the country.”

As reported earlier by JOL, police forces raided one of the schools in Barcelona that was being used as an improvised polling station for the Catalan independence referendum. In footage from the scene, the officers can be seen forcefully removing the protesters who had barricaded themselves inside the school. “We are people of peace, we aren’t afraid,” shouted the voters, who were faced with police brutality that included pushing, kicking, hitting and even rubber bullets.