Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Tuesday, 29 september 2015 | THE TELEGRAPH


Catalan president Artur Mas accused of holding illegal referendum

Mr Mas summoned to Spain's high court over defying state over non-binding referendum on Catalan sovereignty last November

Two days after controversial elections in which pro-independence forces won a majority in Catalonia’s parliament, regional leader Artur Mas has been summoned to appear in court to answer accusations of civil disobedience for holding a non-binding referendum on Catalan sovereignty last November.

Mr Mas must appear before judges at Catalonia’s superior court of justice on October 15 to testify after the Spanish state prosecutor’s office accused the regional leader and two other members of his government at the time of the referendum of several crimes, including misuse of public funds in the organisation of the vote.

If eventually put on trial and found guilty of abuse of office for wilfully pressing ahead with a wildcat referendum which Spain’s constitutional court had suspended, Mr Mas could be barred from public office for up to 10 years.

The news of the summons appeared to strengthen support for Mr Mas among his pro-independence allies ahead of negotiations to form a new Catalan government.

Oriol Junqueras, Mr Mas’s leading colleague from the Together for Yes coalition, the platform which treated Sunday’s election as a referendum on its road map towards a unilateral declaration of independence, called the summons “further proof of why we must be independent”.

“I myself and the two million Catalans who voted also disobeyed. If they want to summon us all, we will be delighted”, said Antonio Baños, the leader of the 10 representatives of the far-left, pro-independence CUP party in the new Catalan assembly.

CUP, whose support Together for Yes needs to have an absolute majority, had said on Monday that it would not be supporting the politically conservative Mr Mas as leader of the next regional government.

Neus Munté, the acting deputy premier in the Catalan administration, said the Spanish government was trying to orchestrate a “political trial” against Mr Mas. “The government’s has put the prosecutors under endless pressure”.

On November 9, 2014, Catalans were called to polling stations to give their opinion on whether the region should become a state and whether it should be an independent one.

According to the results provided by the regional authorities, 2.34 million people voted, a turnout of around 40 per cent, with 81 per cent answering yes to both questions.

Separately, Spain’s government is currently fast-tracking a bill through parliament which would give the country’s Constitutional Court the power to suspend elected officials while their actions were being reviewed on the suspicion of being anti-constitutional.

The government has denied that the reform is aimed at Mr Mas, pointing out that it will apply to all state officials.

But opposition parties are united in their rejection of a law described by the Socialist spokesman in Congress, Antonio Hernando, as “barbaric” and an attack on the constitutional provision for the impeachment of officials being the preserve of elected parliaments.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia