Spain’s highest court on Monday upheld Catalan regional president Quim Torra’s one-and-a-half-year ineligibility sentence after he was found guilty of disobedience, a sentence that automatically results in his dismissal.

The events took place in March 2019, when Torra refused to obey the orders of the electoral authority to remove the separatist emblems displayed on the facade of the Catalan regional government during the campaign for the legislative elections.

Sentenced in December 2019 in the first instance to a year and a half of ineligibility, the President of the Generalitat suggested that he might not comply with the sentence of the highest Spanish court. “Yes, I did not obey,” he admitted during the trial. “But I did it because it was impossible to obey such an order,” he added, defying justice and taking advantage of freedom of expression.

Quim Torra, 57, is due to transfer his position as regional prime minister to his deputy, Pere Aragones. The Spanish press writes that this will happen next week. Aragones would call new elections in early 2021.

In support of Torra, about a thousand Catalans gathered Monday night in Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park, opposite the regional parliament.

Protesters threw firecrackers, garbage bags, stones and pig’s heads at police. They also set fire to garbage containers, according to the DPA.

They demanded the release of Catalan separatists in prison, calling them “political prisoners”.

Some observers warn that the Supreme Court’s decision could rekindle tensions over Catalonia’s independence, especially as it comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the third anniversary of the illegally held referendum on separation from Spain, the DPA notes.