Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra officers scuffle with demonstrators as they cordon off the area around Lleida museum in the west of Catalonia, Spain, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Police in Spain's northeastern Catalan city of Lleida have clashed with people protesting a judicial ruling ordering the city's museum to return 44 pieces of religious art to the neighboring regional government of Aragon.(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Protesters oppose return of disputed art in Catalonia

December 11, 2017 - 5:11 am

LLEIDA, Spain (AP) — Clashes have erupted between police and protesters in Spain's northeastern Catalan city of Lleida after a judicial ruling ordered the city's museum to return 44 pieces of religious art to the neighboring regional government of Aragon.

Regional police cordoned off the area around Lleida Museum early Monday as technicians prepared to remove the disputed artwork.

Several hundred people turned up to protest the transfer and there were brief scuffles and police baton charges as officers tried to move them further away from the museum.

An Aragon provincial court had given till Monday for the museum to hand over the art — which was originally housed in the region's Sijena monastery — following a 2015 court ruling.

Catalonia bought the art from nuns in 1983 but the court ruled the sale illegal.

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