BARCELONA      -    Tens of thousands of demonstrators waving Catalan flags and chanting “Independence!” and “Freedom for political prisoners!” poured into Barcelona on Friday, the fifth day of protests against the jailing of separatist leaders. Many of the marchers began their journeys to the city on Wednesday from municipalities across the northeastern Spanish region, after the Supreme Court sentenced nine separatists to up to 13 years in jail over a failed bid to break away from Spain in 2017. The sentences set off the worst sustained street violence Spain has seen in decades, and Friday’s protests, that also include workers on strike, will be closely watched by authorities in Madrid. “Throughout this week, as you well know, there have been violent incidents in Catalonia. They have been organised ... by groups who are a minority but are very organised,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told a news conference. “Their actions, as we have already said, will also not go unpunished.” Friday’s marches have so far been peaceful, ranging from families pushing prams to cyclists wheeling their bicycles and people draped in the Catalan independence flag, who took over a highway lane and other major roads as they walked towards the Catalan capital. Some in Barcelona stood by the side of the roads, applauding as the walkers arrived. Protesters walking on a highway towards Barcelona carried a giant banner reading, in English: “Free Catalan Prisoners Now.” Several main streets in Barcelona were closed to traffic in anticipation of the marches. Regional trains and the city’s metro were running on a reduced timetable after pro-independence unions called a strike.