Catalonia May Declare Independence Soon

Spain’s Catalonia region, which held an independence referendum Sunday amid a violent crackdown by federal police, could declare independence late this week or early next week.

Carles Puigdemont, the region’s leader, told the BBC the regional government would act once final vote counts are in.

Puigdemont plans to make a public statement Wednesday evening.

Catalonia authorities said 90 percent of those who voted Sunday wanted to break away from Spain and declare an independent republic.

Voters braved sometimes violent attempts by federal police to close polling stations and prevent Catalans from casting ballots in the referendum, which Spain’s high court had earlier declared invalid.

Local authorities said about 900 people were injured in confrontations with police. The crackdown prompted international criticism and calls for dialogue between Madrid and the regional government.

Labor strikes and protests shut down transportation and businesses across Catalonia on Tuesday, while Spain’s king criticized the regional government, saying its “irresponsible behavior” put the stability of Catalonia and all of Spain at risk.

On Wednesday, Spain’s National Court said it was investigating two officials in Catalonia’s police force for sedition in connection with violent protests in September. Catalonia’s police force allegedly didn’t attempt to contain the unrest that resulted when national police forces raided regional government offices in a bid to quash the independence movement.

The leaders of two pro-independence civil groups are also being investigated on similar charges, a court spokesman said.

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