Catalan leader says will proceed with October 1 independence referendum


In Catalonia, sent an additional four thousand policemen. The arrests were the first involving Catalan officials since the campaign to hold an independence vote began in earnest in 2011.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government is waging myriad legal battles to halt the referendum called by the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia.

An Interior Ministry statement said only that Civil Guard police were carrying out an operation to gather evidence as part of investigations into the referendum's preparations. Even so, he remained confident there will be a large turnout of Catalans on October 1 - whatever form the vote takes. Spain's Constitutional Court said September 21 it will begin fining 22 electoral board members appointed to oversee Catalonia's planned independence referendum between $7,200 and $14,400 a day as long as they fail to comply with a court order suspending the ballot.

Many who do not support independence say they are scared to speak out and no longer feel comfortable in their own country.

Hundreds entered the main building of Barcelona University and occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers. Three ferries docked at Barcelona's port will provide accommodation for the extra officers.

The deployment comes amid rising tension between Spanish and Catalan authorities over the planned referendum.

Student union representatives are calling for protesters to remain over the weekend to support for the vote.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain's 1.1 trillion-euro (£970 billion) economy and enjoys wide self-government.

The protest Friday in the northeastern Catalan town of Hospitalet de Llobregat is an extension of another started Thursday outside the Catalan judiciary headquarters in nearby Barcelona that attracted thousands.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution, and the Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.