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22 Oct, 2017 09:28

‘Fake pics, limited use of force’: Spanish FM downplays police violence during Catalonia vote

‘Fake pics, limited use of force’: Spanish FM downplays police violence during Catalonia vote

Spanish police used only “limited force” against Catalonians during the October 1 independence referendum, Spanish Foreign Minister said in an interview with BBC, claiming that many pictures showing police violence were “fake.”

“I don’t think there [was] any brutal situation,” Alfonso Dastis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, speaking about clashes between police and Catalans on the day of the vote.

“Many of those pictures [showing police violence] have been proven to be fake,” Dastis said, “If there was a use of force, it was a limited one.”

While admitting not all of the footage could possibly be manipulated he insisted that “but some of [the pictures] are,” adding that “there have been a lot of alternative facts and fake news” about the independence referendum.

“According to some pictures there was some use of force. It was not a deliberate use of force, it was a provoked use of force,” the Spanish Foreign Minister said.

READ MORE: Police use of batons & rubber bullets is 'unjustified violence' – Catalan leader

Thousands of extra officers from the National Police and Civil Guard were deployed to Catalonia amid tensions over the independence vote. The vote was held October 1, despite Madrid calling it “unconstitutional.” The police crackdown during the vote resulted in over 800 people being injured across the region, according to Catalonia’s Health Department.

READ MORE: Spanish police used excessive force in Catalonia during referendum – HRW

Shortly after the referendum the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe contacted the Spanish Interior Minister, seeking “swift, independent and effective” investigations into allegations of disproportionate use of force by the police. 

Human Rights Watch criticized the actions of Spanish national police, saying that it used “excessive force towards peaceful Catalans expressing their political opinion.” 

In the meantime, Madrid insists that the actions of Civil Guard and National Police were “prudent, appropriate and proportionate to the objective of ensuring compliance with the law and the rights of all citizens.”

On Saturday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared that the government wants to dissolve the Catalan parliament and call a snap election in order to restore order in the region. He requested the Senate authorize him to dissolve the Catalan government. Central government ministers will assume the powers of Catalonia’s officials, Rajoy said.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont immediately criticized Madrid’s move. He compared the imposing of a direct rule on Barcelona "the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.”