SPAIN has been urged to listen to a “cry of freedom” as more than 100,000 supporters of Catalan independence took their battle for self-determination to the heart of the Spanish capital with a march through the centre of Madrid.

Organisers said more than 120,000 people had taken part while Spanish police put the figure at a mere 18,000 – far less than the total who travelled from Catalonia by more than 500 coaches and trains.

READ MORE: Exiled Catalan indepencence leader Carles Puigdemont to run for European seat

Demonstrators waved Catalan flags and carried signs reading “Self- determination is not a crime”. They were also protesting at the ongoing trial of 12 pro-independence leaders at the Supreme Court in Madrid for their role in the October 2017 referendum and a subsequent declaration of independence.

As with other Catalan protests, Saturday’s passed without incident, even when a solitary unionist unfurled a Spanish flag amongst a group of hundreds of Catalans.

Mireille, who lives in the capital and is a member of the Madrid Right to Decide collective, told the National: “It was party time – an opportunity to thank Catalan people for fighting.

“There was no trouble. We had some problems with one journalist trying to provoke us but he didn’t reach his goal.”

READ MORE: Catalan police deny accusations of facilitating independence referendum

Aleix Sarri Camargo – a senior adviser to Catalan President Quim Torra – tweeted: “100,000 Catalans manifesting today in Madrid and not an incident of any kind. They can lie as much as they want for TV and press, reality falls by their own weight.” Torra, who took part in the demonstration, had a message for the Spanish state, saying: “Listen, Spain, to this cry of freedom.

“It is no small struggle to defend civil rights, or no travel too long to defend the right of self-determination.

“Look at what you’ve failed, Spain, because so many people are appealing for the right of self-determination.”

Torra went on to express solidarity with those who are on trial and have spent more than a year in preventative detention: “We are here for them, for their freedom, to report this trial of shame.

READ MORE: Catalan appointed artistic director of Scottish Dance Theatre

“We will not stop until we get the freedom of political prisoners and exiles and until the right of self-determination is respected and exercised.”

The demonstration was organised by grassroots groups the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, whose heads are among those on trial, and pro-indy parties in the Catalan parliament. ANC president, Elisenda Paluzie, told the crowd the Catalan Republic would be all-inclusive, and reminded them that when a basic human right – such as self-determination – is violated in one place, “it is violated everywhere”.

The Catalan crisis will play a major role in the April 28 snap election, called by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Three right-wing parties are all calling for Spain to take a tougher position with the independence lobby.

Most polls indicate support of the Catalan parties could prove as decisive as it did when Sanchez needed their support to oust former PM Mariano Rajoy.

He came to power by winning a confidence motion last year with the support of pro-Catalan independence parties but he could not secure their backing for his budget, which forced him to call an early election.

Sanchez is likely to once again need their backing to form a government after the vote.