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The Latest: Rajoy defends police actions in Catalonia


The Latest on Catalonia’s independence referendum and Spain’s response (all times local):
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – The Latest on Catalonia’s independence referendum and Spain’s response (all times local):
9:10 p.m.
The Spanish government says Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in meetings with political opponents, has defended the police performance on Sunday when hundreds were injured in the crackdown on a banned referendum on Catalonia’s independence.
The main opposition leader, the Socialist Pedro Sanchez, has criticized the violence that left more than 1,300 hurt, most of them civilians.
The business-friendly Ciudadanos (Citizens) party leader Albert Rivera also met with Rajoy on Monday as the prime minister looks for consensus on how to proceed with the crisis.
A statement by the government said that Rajoy also held talks with top leaders of the European Union and with French president Emmanuel Macron to explain “the failure” of the vote attempt by the Catalan separatist government.
Rajoy told them that “the government’s determination to halt the illegal referendum contributes to keeping the stability and democracy in the whole European Union.”
6:45 p.m.
Shares in Catalonia’s two main banks have dropped on Spain’s main stock exchange following political uncertainty after leaders of the northeastern region pushed ahead with a secession bid.
Shares in Caixabank and Banco Sabadell each lost more than 4 percent of their value in Monday’s session.
Sabadell’s shares were valued at 1.67 euros, down 4.5 percent, its lowest value since April. Caixabank lost 4.4 percent to 4.05 euros per share, its lowest since June.
Uncertainty was also blamed for losses across the board in Spain’s main index, the Ibex 35.
Catalan separatist leaders have pledged to seek secession after staging a referendum vote on Sunday amid a violent crackdown by Spanish police forces.
5:35 p.m.
Spain’s Interior Ministry says that 431 National Police and Civil Guard agents suffered wounds or bruising during violent clashes with civilians in Catalonia.
The ministry says that 39 officers received immediate treatment but none was hospitalized. The remaining 392 suffered minor injuries and bruises resulting from kicks, bites and scratches.
The ministry had previously reported 33 as the number of officers injured.
More than 890 civilians were treated for injuries, most of them not serious, according to Catalan regional health authorities.
Police using batons and firing rubber bullets cleared protesters hoping to vote in Sunday’s disputed referendum on the northeastern region’s independence from Spain.
5:20 p.m.
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis says he doesn’t see the police intervention during the Catalonia referendum as heavy-handed.
Speaking ahead of an Italian-Spanish forum in Rome on Monday, Dastis said it is “a matter of interpretation.”
“I don’t think there was such a heavy hand, but in any case, they had to react.” He said “some of the pictures are real, some of them are not real” but that police had simply reacted to the fact that people were preventing them from doing what they had been ordered to do by the courts.
He said the Spanish government would have preferred not to have seen the images, “but it was not a deliberate act of violence.” Spanish riot police smashed their way into polling stations across Catalonia on Sunday trying to derail the independence referendum that the Spanish government said was illegal. The clashes injured 893 people.
5:15 p.m.
Amnesty International says its observers in Catalonia witnessed “excessive use of force” by Spain’s national police and civil guard agents trying to stop the voting in a banned referendum.
The rights group says in an emailed statement that violence was used against people who were “passively resisting” a judge’s order to impede the referendum.
Researchers saw images of some demonstrators “showing violent attitudes” against police agents, the group says, calling for an investigation that leads to criminal prosecution if necessary.
More than 890 civilians were treated for injuries, most of them not serious, according to Catalan regional health authorities. Spain’s Interior Minister says that 33 police officers were also injured.
The Spanish government says no referendum took place because the independence bid by regional secessionist politicians is illegal. A constitutional court had suspended it.
4:35 p.m.
European Union chief Donald Tusk has appealed to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to “avoid further escalation and use of force” in the standoff over the Catalonian independence referendum.
Tusk spoke to the Spanish leader Monday, and said that even though he said shared the constitutional reasoning for not recognizing Sunday’s referendum in Catalonia, he wanted the violence that marred the poll not to be repeated.
Tusk said in a Twitter message that he “appealed for finding ways to avoid further escalation and use of force.”
3:50 p.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron is noting his attachment to Spain’s “constitutional unity” one day after Catalonia’s disputed independence referendum.
The French presidency said in a statement that Macron had a phone call Monday with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in which he told Rajoy that he is France’s contact in Spain.
The French statement didn’t comment on the violent crackdown Sunday by Spanish police trying to stop the referendum that left over 890 people and 33 police injured.
Catalonia’s regional government says 90 percent of those who voted chose independence from Spain, and has called for international mediation to solve the political deadlock.
3:25 p.m.
Spain’s interior minister has lamented the hundreds of injuries linked to the Spanish police’s crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum Sunday – but he says the thousands of police reinforcements sent to the region would be staying as long as needed.
Speaking Monday on Spain’s Antena 3 TV, Juan Ignacio Zoido reiterated that police acted under a judicial order to prevent the referendum from taking place. But he admitted that there were some scenes he would have preferred not to have happened.
He said that police had simply tried to remove election material, but in some cases people had resisted them Sunday.
Spain sent at least 5,000 extra National Police and National Guard officers to join the estimated 10,000 members of both forces already stationed there.
The officers fired rubber bullets and clubbed and kicked many people who took to the streets to defend the referendum that Spain insists was illegal.
2:15 p.m.
Serbia’s president says the European Union has shown “double standards and hypocrisy” in rejecting the Catalan referendum but not the independence of ex-Serbian province of Kosovo.
Aleksandar Vucic said Monday his government supports the territorial integrity of Spain, one of five EU member nations that have not recognized Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, following a brutal 1998-99 war. It was backed by the United States and its allies, but not Russia and China.
Meanwhile, Poland’s government has expressed hope for a “quick stabilization of the situation in Catalonia” through dialogue and compromise, “without resorting to force or street demonstrations.”
But Poland’s foreign ministry also described the situation in Catalonia to be Spain’s “internal matter,” saying “we fully respect the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of the Kingdom of Spain.”
2 p.m.
The U. N. human rights chief is calling on Spain’s government to ensure “thorough, independent and impartial investigations” into acts of violence linked to the Catalan independence referendum.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein says he’s “very disturbed” by Sunday’s violence in Catalonia. He said police responses must “at all times be proportionate and necessary.”
The rights chief said in a statement Monday the situation should be resolved through political dialogue.
Catalan health officials say 893 people were treated in the hospital during Sunday’s clashes with riot police who turned up to stop people from voting.
Zeid, a Jordanian prince who goes by his first name, also urged Madrid to accept “without delay” the requests of two U. N.-mandated investigators on freedom of assembly and minorities to be granted access to visit Catalonia.
Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said the two U. N. “special rapporteurs” had previously sought the access before the weekend’s violence.
1:40 p.m.
Catalonia’s leader is calling for international mediation to solve the political deadlock over the Catalan independence referendum.
Carles Puigdemont also called on Spain’s national police reinforcements to leave the northeastern region, a day after the vote on whether Catalonia should secede from Spain led to violence as police moved to stop voting.
He said the regional government will investigate responsibilities in rights violations.

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