barcelona protest referendum
© REUTERS / Rafael Marchante
People march through Via Laetana Avenue during a protest after a verdict in a trial over a banned independence referendum.
Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by Spain's Supreme Court for his role in the attempted secession by authorities in Barcelona in 2017.

Junqueras was among nine separatist leaders who were sentenced to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition for their part in the region's failed 2017 independence bid which captured headlines around the world.

A further three defendants were found guilty of disobedience but were not handed prison sentences for their participation in both the banned referendum and short-lived independence declaration. All defendants were acquitted of the most serious charge of rebellion.

catalonia independence leaders
© Reuters/Albert Gea
Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras (left), who received the harshest sentence, and President Carles Puigdemont (right), who remains in exile
A further three defendants were found guilty of disobedience but were not handed prison sentences. Meanwhile, the former regional president and face of the separatist movement Carles Puigdemont remains in exile in Belgium. In a statement in response to the sentencing, he described the 100 years of total prison time for the former leaders as an "atrocity."

"It is time to react ... for the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia," the former leader wrote on Twitter.

Comment: And react they did: Catalans have turned out on the streets en masse...

Protests erupt in Barcelona as citizens vent anger at harsh sentences for Catalan referendum organizers

People are gathering in the streets of the Catalan capital Barcelona, to protest the sentencing of nine people to lengthy jail terms for their roles in the 2017 independence referendum.

Barcelona is bracing for a day of mass protests, with local students leading the build-up for what is promised to be a "Democratic Tsunami".

Several streets have been blocked by demonstrators. Further disruptions of traffic are expected as more people take to the streets later in the day. Protest rallies have also been reported in several big Catalan municipalities, such as Girona and Lleida.