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Spain orders removal of art work from Catalonia

Spain orders removal of art work from Catalonia

A monastery in neighboring Aragon region says over 44 of its artefacts were sold illegally to Catalonia in the 1980s and the issue has become a symbol of broader disagreement between opponents and supporters of Catalan independence.

Catalonia's regional government bought the art in 1983 from the nuns of the Sijena monastery in neighbouring Aragon.

Spanish Culture Minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo used the imposition of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which suspended the Catalan regional authority at the end of October, to authorize the works to be returned to Sijena on Monday.

The removal of the pieces came amid heightened tensions between Madrid and Catalonia over its bid for independence.

Protesters clashed with police trying to reclaim disputed religious artefacts from a museum in Catalonia on Monday, in the latest display of tension between Catalan separatists and Spain's central government ahead of a December 21 election.

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"It is best to respect court decisions", Rajoy said when asked about the operation to remove the art.

Some demonstrators briefly scuffled with police as officers tried to move them on. "We will use all legal means to show that the purchase, by the [Catalan government] was made in accordance with the law and that the works were transferred to the Museum of Lleida with full legality and legitimacy".

Meanwhile, former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont tweeted from Belgium that the removal of the Siejna artworks was taking advantage of a "coup d'etat to plunder Catalonia with absolute impunity".

The survey said Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party, the Catalan Republican Left party and the anti-capitalist Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) would win 66 or 67 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament, one or two shy of the 68 needed for a majority.