¨We are facing absolute legal nonsense and a grave political error¨

Official statement from Mayor Ada Colau following the detention of nine members of the Catalan government.

Today is a black day for democracy and for Catalunya. Just a few hours ago detention orders were issued for vice president Oriol Junqueras, as well as for ministers Jordi Turull, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Meritxel Borràs, Raúl Romeva, Carles Mundó, Santi Vila and Joaquim Forn, for whom I would like to make special mention because of his relationship with the city of Barcelona and this government, as a former deputy mayor and municipal spokesman for PDeCAT.

At the same time, an international arrest warrant has been issued against President Carles Puigdemont, and ministers Antoni Comín, Meritxell Serret, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí, who are currently in Belgium. Although they have been removed from office due to Article 155, they all form part of the democratically elected Catalan government, as we have declared in a plenary session held today in this city government.

In addition, the Supreme Court has decided to submit to police watch Carme Forcadell, speaker of the parliament, and five members of parliament they until November 9 when they will declare again. We never should have reached this point.

We are facing legal absurdities of a degree without precedent in the recent history of European democracies. We are without doubt witnessing a grave and extremely serious political error that distances us from any solution and pushes us toward the slippery slope of authoritarianism. This is a decision that can only be explained through a spirit of revenge whose purpose is to humiliate Catalan institutions and their legitimate representatives.

This is without doubt the worst attack against the Catalan government since the restoration of democracy, but make no mistake. This is not an attack against only Catalan institutions, but rather an attack against the democratic foundations of the Spanish state. Those who ostensibly defend the Constitution are today those who most undermine it, putting at risk the separation of powers, and this must be understood by all citizens committed to defending democracy in Catalunya and in all of Spain.

As Mayor of Barcelona, capital of Catalunya, and aware of the gravity of the times we are living, I want to address the public to express my rejection of these imprisonments and my firm commitment to defending Catalan institutions and their legitimate representatives. I urge the government of Mariano Rajoy to take the necessary steps to immediately put an end to this repressive spiral and I call for the immediate release of vice president Junqueras, the eight detained ministers, as well as Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart. The relationship between Catalunya and Spain must be resolved through the ballot box, not through prison.

Given this authoritarian turn of events, I want to address Catalan citizens, organizations, political parties and local governments committed to the Catalan cause and to the defence of democratic values, so that we may stand together to defend social cohesion, recover self-government, oppose the authoritarianism of the Mariano Rajoy government, and to oppose the wielding of legal instruments in this way and the attacks against Catalan institutions.

I appeal to all Catalan politicians to unite to demand freedom for those who have been jailed, for amnesty and for discontinuing the application of Article 155 in Catalunya.

I want my final words to be to send my warmest regards to the friends, family and colleagues of the people who today have entered unjustly into prison, as well as Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, who have been unjustly imprisoned for more than two weeks. Our thoughts and affections are with them.