‘Democracia’: 80,000 gather for Catalan pro-independence rally

People hold Catalan separatist flags, known as "Esteladas", during a gathering to protest against legal challenges made by Spain's government against pro-independence Catalan politicians, in Barcelona, Spain, November 13, 2016. © Albert Gea
About 80,000 took to the streets of Barcelona to once again demand independence from Spain and support ex-regional leader, Artur Mas, who is facing a lengthy ban from holding office, police said.

People carried Catalan flags and banners demanding that the persecution of Mas and Catalan parliament head, Carme Forcadell end.

The stage from which the speakers addressed the crowd, was decorated with giant letters reading “Democracia” (Democracy).

The Catalan national anthem was also performed by people on stage and by demonstrators.

Mas is set to stand trial on charges of "serious disobedience" and "malfeasance" for the symbolic independence vote his government staged in 2014.

Back then, over 80 percent of those who cast a vote wanted Catalonia to gain independence from Madrid. If found guilty on the charges, Mas may face a ban on holding office during a period of up to 10 years.

The Spanish government has adamantly ruled out the possibility of Catalonia’s independence, saying that secession of the country’s wealthiest region would be illegal.

Catalonia's independence roadmap, passed by the regional parliament after pro-independence leaders won the majority of seats there last year, was suspended by Spain’s constitutional court in August.

READ MORE: Catalan ex-president to go on trial for holding independence vote

However, current Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, said that he will call a referendum on whether to stay with Madrid or leave to in September 2017.