Thousands of supporters of the separatist movement in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia held protests on Wednesday for the third consecutive day over a controversial court ruling.
“Marches for freedom” began in five Catalonian cities, Girona, Vic, Berga, Tarrega and Tarragona and were intended to reach the regional capital, Barcelona, on Friday.
Earlier in the week, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition over their roles in conducting an outlawed independence referendum.
The sentencing occurred more than two years after the October 2017 referendum on whether to declare the economically strong Catalonia region an independent state.
More than 50 people were reported detained and 125 injured, including police, amid anti-Spain demonstrations on Tuesday night.
The protests have descended into riots, marked by clashes between protesters and police, with barricades intended to contain the crowds set on fire.
Separatist leader, Carles Puigdemont, who was not one of those on trial, encouraged the protesters to continue to mobilise in a democratic tsunami on Twitter.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium in 2017 as Spanish authorities clamped down on the separatist movement.
Spain has recently renewed its attempts to extradite him.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez condemned the violence, saying the government would continue to guarantee security in the region.
He intended to meet opposition party leaders in an effort to mitigate the situation.
“The violence seeks to break the co-existence in Catalonia,” Sanchez said in a statement on Twitter.
The former vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, who was sentenced to 13 years in the ruling this week, emphasised that the protests should be peaceful.
“No violence represents us,” Junqueras said in a statement on Twitter.