Catalonia independence referendum: Spain threatens to ARREST mayors in favour of vote

Emmett Rice
September 14, 2017

In a separate order, the Constitutional Court told regional government officials on Wednesday they had 48 hours to show how they were preventing the vote from going ahead. They argue that Spain's 1978 constitution bars regional governments from calling independence referendums.

Around one million Catalans rallied in Barcelona on Monday, waving red and yellow striped flags and banging drums, in a show of support for independence after Madrid moved to block a referendum on the region's split from Spain.

The Spanish Prosecutor General's Office has summoned mayors of several towns in Catalonia to ask them to clarify their position on the autonomous community's so-called independence referendum expected in October, a source in the prosecutors' office told Sputnik on Wednesday. It suspended a law approving the October 1 vote last week.

Like the referendum held in Britain previous year on the country's membership in the European Union, the issue in Catalonia pits rural areas - which are more pro-independence - against large urban centres like Barcelona which are more in favour of remaining in Spain.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is fighting to stop the ballot and he appealed to Catalans to ignore calls from independence supporters to turn out.

Spain's Constitutional Court suspended a referendum law that was fast-tracked through Catalonia's regional parliament last week.

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Police have searched a Catalan printing house and a local weekly newspaper suspected of making ballots for the referendum, while Spain's state prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings against Puigdemont and other Catalan officials.

"They can arrest us, they're insane!", David Rovira, the pro-separatist mayor of L'Espluga de Francoli, a town of some 3,800 residents, told AFP by telephone, adding that Madrid had "proposed nothing" to appease Catalonia's demands for greater autonomy.

Spain's King Felipe VI also entered the fray, stepping up the pressure on Catalonia by vowing that the Spanish Constitution "will prevail" over any attempt to break the country apart.

Mr Rajoy said today: "If anyone urges you to go to a polling station, don't go, because the referendum can't take place, it would be an absolutely illegal act".

Catalonia, which is roughly the same size as Belgium and has its own language and customs, already has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare.

Spain's economic troubles and a perception that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments from Madrid have helped push the secessionist movement.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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