Catalan police chief who 'didn't rescue Spanish officers' to be freed

Tensions continue to grow between Madrid and Catalonia's separatists after a Spanish judge ordered the region's police chief to be released from prison over charges of sedition.

The Spanish High Court ruled Josep Lluis Trapero would not be held in custody despite the state prosecutor asking for his detention while he was investigated.

Prosecutors allege he failed to rescue officers from the Civil Guard, a national police force, who were trapped by protesters inside a Catalan government building in September.

It comes after Spain demanded a yes or no answer from Catalonia in declaring independence. It wanted an answer by 10am on Monday.

But in response, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont wrote a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calling for a meeting "as soon as possible".

Stopping short of giving a yes or no answer, the politician wrote: "Let's not let the situation deteriorate further. With good will, recognising the problem and facing it head on, I am sure we can find the path to a solution."

Last week, Mr Rajoy warned that Madrid would suspend Catalonia's autonomy if independence was declared.

He had also warned that any ambiguous response would be considered as confirmation that a declaration of independence had been made.

Speaking on Monday morning, Spain's deputy prime minister said the government response had wide backing in the Spanish parliament, and demanded Mr Puigdemont say by Thursday whether he would be declaring independence.

A declaration of independence would trigger Article 155 of the 1978 constitution - allowing Madrid to impose direct rule, sack the local administration and appoint a new governing team who will take control of the police and the wealthy region's finances.

About 90% of those who voted in the referendum backed separating from Spain, but only around 40% of people turned out, with most of those who reject secession boycotting it.

Mr Puigdemont is under pressure from multiple sides over a possible declaration.

The Spanish leader has been criticised for his stance on Catalonia, with European Council president Donald Tusk among those who have urged him to talk with Mr Puigdemont.