Spanish Police Beat Up Hundreds of Voters in Referendum for Catalonia's Independence


The Spanish government said the vote would be void and police sealed off many voting centres and used force to stop people from using their ballot.

A statement from La Liga said the match should take place as normal because the security and safety of fans had been "guaranteed" by the Catalan police.

Police have orders to close the polling stations by 6am on Sunday and have warned those occupying them that they must leave by dawn.

In defiance of central authorities, the regional government secretly created ballots, formed electoral rolls, organized polling stations, and made other moves to prepare for the referendum.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said police had "acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way".

"We are the government of Spain and I am the prime minister of Spain. There has not been a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia", Rajoy said before polls closed.

"The exterior image of the Spanish state keeps getting worse and today they have reached embarrassing levels that will always be always remembered", Puigdemont said.

The referendum was a "real attack on the rule of which the state reacted with firmness and serenity".

Over two million Catalans, or 90.09 percent of those who voted said "Yes" in Sunday's referendum, regional authorities said.

The referendum and subsequent police actions surrounding the vote have raised tensions in the Catalan region and throughout the rest of Spain. Videos that emerged Sunday on social media appear to show police using brutal force on people attempting to cast their vote.

"Why don't we be more like the British, who have been democratic for many more centuries than us?"

Elsewhere, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rejected opposition calls for the United Kingdom to intervene with the Spanish Government over the police crackdown.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont previously suggested a "Yes" vote would open the door to a unilateral declaration of independence by the regional parliament to the national Spanish government.

Friday saw thousands of Catalan separatists hold a final rally in the city of Barcelona.

Catalonia, a wealthy region whose capital is Barcelona, is voting on whether to break off from Spain. The EU said Catalonia would be forced out of the bloc and have to reapply to join if it leaves Spain.