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The Latest Catalan leader Focus on freeing separatists

BARCELONA, Spain — The Latest on Catalan separatists in Spain (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

The Catalan leader says the focus of the Day of Catalonia holiday must be on freeing the high-profile separatists who are awaiting trial for their part in the bid by the region to break away from Spain last year.

Quim Torra says that while maintaining the goal of secession for Catalonia, his government will dedicate all its efforts into drumming up public protests before the trials of the separatists expected to start before the year’s end.

Torra says “I will not accept (guilty) sentences and I will appeal to all free-minded citizens to not accept them either.”

Torra, however, adds that his government has ruled out openly defying the justice system by releasing the prisoners from their jails, which are in Catalonia and run by his regional administration.

Hundreds of thousands of pro-independence Catalans are expected in Barcelona’s streets later on Tuesday.

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12:45 p.m.

Separatist authorities are calling for people to take to the streets of Barcelona to mark the Day of Catalonia, in the first of a series of mass mobilizations demanding independence from Spain.

The traditional Sept. 11 march marking the “Diada,” when the Catalan capital fell to Spanish forces in 1714, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of secession sympathizers Tuesday.

It comes nearly one year after a banned referendum on secession led to an ineffective independence declaration. Catalan separatist leaders and activists who pushed it, defying Spain’s constitutional protection of territorial integrity, are either awaiting trial in prison or fled the country.

Catalan President Quim Torra, who came to power after secessionists won a regional election, wants the new center-left national government to agree to a binding independence referendum.