Spain threatens 712 Catalan mayors with arrest for independence poll

Spain's state prosecutor is investigating more than 700 Catalan mayors for cooperating with a referendum on independence that has been suspended by a court.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoys conservative government has pledged to stop the Catalan independence referendum and was granted a suspension by the Constitutional Court while judges decide on its legality. Pictures: PA and Creative Commons
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoys conservative government has pledged to stop the Catalan independence referendum and was granted a suspension by the Constitutional Court while judges decide on its legality. Pictures: PA and Creative Commons

Jose Manuel Maza, ordered provincial prosecutors to investigate 712 mayors who have already offered municipal facilities for the October 1 vote and the regional Catalan police to arrest them if they do not show up to give evidence.

The Spanish prime minister continues to urge the people of Catalonia not to take part in the planned referendum on the region’s independence that he says is unconstitutional.

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Thousands ready for Catalonian independence rally
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, centre, attends an urgent cabinet meeting at the Moncloa palace in Madrid. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

However, the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia has vowed to hold the vote despite the prohibition and has asked the 947 mayors in the northeastern region to provide facilities for the plebiscite.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s government were granted a suspension by the Constitutional Court while judges decide on the legality of the poll.

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.”

Members of the Catalan Popular Party display Spanish flags just before abandoning the session ahead of the voting. Picture: AP

The economically powerful Catalonia has a thriving population of 7.5 million and accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economic output.

Spain argues that an independent Catalonia would be ejected from the European Union and left out from using the euro currency. European officials have cautiously supported Madrid’s stance in the conflict.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, centre, attends an urgent cabinet meeting at the Moncloa palace in Madrid. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Members of the Catalan Popular Party display Spanish flags just before abandoning the session ahead of the voting. Picture: AP