Catalonia crisis: Pro-independence demonstration to take place in Barcelona

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says Spanish authorities have "damaged democracy"

Catalonia crisis: Pro-independence demonstration to take place in Barcelona

Thousands of people rally outside the regional presidential palace in Sant Jaume Square during a general strike in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. Picture by: Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images

A demonstration is being held in Barcelona later today by supporters of Catalan independence.

They will be protesting against about the region's leaders being arrested for illegally declaring independence from Spain.

The region's sacked leader Carles Puigdemont is avoiding arrest in Belgium, and says Spanish authorities have "damaged democracy".

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Puigdemont argued: "I am not a rebel. I don't have the spirit of a rebel nor the wish to be one. I consider myself to be very disciplined. I just want to carry out what my parliament has approved.

"To be treated like a criminal, like a drug trafficker, a paedophile, like a serial killer, I think this is abuse... this isn't politics, this is using the courts to do politics."

Eight Catalan ministers, who appeared in court in Madrid last week, have been denied bail and jailed pending their trial.

Following a disputed independence referendum last month, the Spanish government triggered Article 155 of its constitution - removing Catalonia's autonomy and dissolving the parliament.

Fresh elections have been called by Madrid for Catalonia, with a vote to take place on December 21st.