Spain's top court overturns Catalonia bullfighting ban

Barcelona mayor vows to resist contentious court decision.

Spain’s top court has overturned a ban on bullfighting in the Catalonia region, almost five years after it was introduced, declaring it "unconstitutional and void."

Arguing that bullfighting was classified as part of Spain's heritage, the constitutional court stated that any decision to ban the tradition was a matter for the central government and not the country's semi-autonomous regions.

However Barcelona's left-wing mayor Ada Colau says her administration intends to do everything it can to maintain the ban, in defiance of the court ruling which has outraged animal rights campaigners.

The court's decision has also stoked political tensions between the central government in Madrid and the north-eastern Catalonia region which is preparing for a referendum seeking independence next year.

Bullfighting supporters and conservative politicians have welcomed the decision to overturn the ban, which came into effect on 1 January 2012.

The Catalonian regional government voted to ban bullfighting in 2010, following a petition organised by animal rights activists. Catalonia became Spain's first mainland region to ban the tradition, 19 years after it was abolished on the Canary Islands.