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Rajoy says rule of law prevailed by blocking Catalan vote

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Sunday that the rule of law had prevailed in Catalonia because an independence referendum in the region prohibited by the courts had been blocked.

“Today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The rule of law remains in force with all its strength,” he said in a televised address.

Security forces “performed their duty” in Catalonia and respected a court order to prevent voting from taking place, he added in his first public comments Sunday on the referendum.

“It would have been easier for everyone to look the other way,” the conservative prime minister said.

The referendum was a “real attack on the rule of law… to which the state reacted with firmness and serenity”.

At least 92 people were injured clashes between police and protesters, a spokeswoman for the Catalan government’s health department said, out of a total of 465 people who went to hospitals and health centres.

Spain’s interior ministry said 33 police officers needed medical treatment.

Police baton-charged and fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds protecting polling stations in Barcelona and other towns and cities.

Videos posted on social media showed police dragging voters from polling stations by their hair, throwing people down stairs and attacking Catalan firefighters who were protecting polling stations.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said police had used “indiscriminate force” against people demonstrating “peacefully”.

Several leftist Spanish politicians have demanded Rajoy resign because of the police crackdown against the protesters.