0924 GMT February 18, 2020
Spain’s representative in northeast Catalonia, which accounts for a fifth of the national economy, made the apology just as Catalonia’s secessionist leader appeared to inch away from a plan to declare independence as early as Monday, Reuters reported.
“When I see these images, and more so when I know people have been hit, pushed and even one person who was hospitalized, I can’t help but regret it and apologize on behalf of the officers that intervened,” Enric Millo said in a television interview.
Spanish police used batons and rubber bullets to stop people voting in Sunday’s referendum, which Madrid had banned as unconstitutional. The scenes brought worldwide condemnation and fanned separatist feeling but failed to prevent what the Catalan government described as an overwhelming yes vote.
Moments earlier, a Catalan Parliament spokeswoman said the regional government’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, had asked to address lawmakers on Tuesday, in timing that appeared at odds with earlier plans to move an independence motion on Monday.
Puigdemont wanted to speak on the “political situation”.
The softer tone contrasted with remarks earlier on Friday from Catalonia’s head of foreign affairs who told BBC radio it would go ahead with an independence debate in the regional parliament.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has offered all-party political talks to find a solution, opening the door to a deal giving Catalonia more autonomy. But he has ruled out independence and rejected a Catalan proposal for international mediation.