Wednesday 18 October 2017

Spain summons Catalan mayors over vote

People wave Estelads (Catalan separatist flag). Photo: Reuters
People wave Estelads (Catalan separatist flag). Photo: Reuters

Isla Binnie in Madrid

Spain's state prosecutor has summoned all 700-plus Catalan mayors who have backed an independence referendum, as Madrid seeks to block the separatist vote it has declared illegal.

If the mayors do not answer the summons, police should arrest them, the prosecutor said in a letter delivered to local authorities yesterday.

Officials engaging in any preparations for the vote could face charges of civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds, the letter said.

Catalonia's regional parliament passed laws last week to prepare for a referendum on October 1. Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the vote after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy challenged it in the courts.

Judges are now considering whether the legislation contravenes Spain's constitution, which states that the country is indivisible.

So far, 712 of a total 948 municipal leaders have said they would allow public spaces to be used for the referendum, although the mayor of the region's most populous area - the city of Barcelona - has yet to take a definitive position.

Neus Lloveras, mayor of Vilanova i la Geltrú, in the province of Barcelona, and head of a pro-independence association, said the municipal leaders had been left totally stunned by the summons.

"We don't think any European country has ever tried to make more than 700 mayors testify," she told reporters in Barcelona.

"We have nothing to hide. When we have to go and testify, we will say everything that we have been saying for days, that we owe it to our people to keep working to make sure that they can freely express themselves at the ballot box."

Irish Independent

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