October 15, 2019 / 10:50 AM / a month ago

Catalonia's political problem continues despite sentence: Spain's Borrell

FILE PHOTO: European Commissioner-designate for a Stronger Europe in the World Josep Borrell Fontelles of Spain attends his hearing before the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

MADRID (Reuters) - The issue posed to Spain by Catalonia’s independence drive will not end with the sentencing of nine separatist leaders, Josep Borrell, Spain’s acting foreign minister said on Tuesday, calling for dialogue within the framework of the constitution.

On Monday, the Supreme Court set out prison terms of between nine and 13 years for leaders from the northeastern region over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid, triggering protests.

The push for secession has left residents in Catalonia divided, Borrell told reporters. “Yesterday, today and tomorrow, it remains a political problem that has to be solved,” he said. “The judges are not there to solve the political problem.”

The independence movement had ignored those in Catalonia who were not in favor of breaking away from Spain, he added, saying: “This is a totalitarian attitude.” Separatists have repeatedly rejected such comments.

An opinion poll in July showed 48.3% of Catalans against secession and 44% in favor.

Reporting by Belen Carreno; Additional reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; Writing by Ashifa Kassam; Editing by Ingrid Melander

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