Spain’s public prosecutor on Wednesday ordered a prison probe of over 700 Catalan mayors who’re cooperating with an October 1 independence referendum deemed unlawful by Madrid.
The transfer will increase the strain on Catalan officers simply in the future earlier than the pro-separatist camp formally kicks off its referendum marketing campaign within the Mediterranean port of Tarragona.
Furious on the choice to instigate a probe, Catalan municipal associations referred to as on all of the area’s mayors to protest in Barcelona on Saturday to indicate their “rejection of a Spanish judicial system that goes after the media, poll papers, poll bins… and now mayors”.
The prosecutors’ workplace ordered the mayors who’ve agreed to assist stage the vote be summoned to court docket as official suspects and if they don’t seem to “order their arrest”, based on a duplicate of the ruling obtained by AFP.
Pro-independence Catalan president Carles Puigdemont dubbed the transfer an “atrocity scarcely worthy of a democracy”, and mentioned he would attend Saturday’s protest.
Catalonia’s pro-separatist authorities has requested the rich northeastern area’s 948 mayors to offer services for polling stations for the plebiscite.
So far 712 principally smaller municipalities have agreed to take part, based on a listing posted on the web site of Catalonia’s Municipal Association for Independence (AMI) which represents 750 municipalities.
“They can arrest us! They’re loopy!,” David Rovira, the pro-separatist mayor of L’Espluga de Francoli, a city of some three,800 residents, instructed AFP by telephone, including that Madrid had “proposed nothing” to appease Catalonia’s calls for for larger autonomy.
Jordi Turull, a spokesman for the Catalan authorities, instructed reporters that the chief would assist the area’s mayors and would “respect their choice”.
The ruling comes a day after prosecutors ordered police in Catalonia to grab poll bins, election flyers and another merchandise that might be used within the referendum.
Prosecutors have already launched an official criticism in opposition to Puigdemont and members of his authorities over their referendum plans, accusing them of civil disobedience, misfeasance, and misappropriation of public funds — the latter carrying jail sentences of as much as eight years.
And on Wednesday, the official referendum web site was shut down following a court docket order, the Guardia Civil police drive mentioned, prompting Puigdemont to instantly tweet the handle of a brand new web site.
– ‘Don’t go’ –
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative authorities has vowed to do every thing in its energy to cease the referendum. It argues that Spain’s 1978 Constitution stipulates that regional governments can not name an independence referendum.
Rajoy on Wednesday urged Catalans to boycott the referendum.
“If anybody urges you to go to a polling station, don’t go as a result of the referendum can’t happen, it will be a completely unlawful act,” he mentioned.
Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended a referendum regulation that was fast-tracked via Catalonia’s regional parliament final week however the Catalan authorities has vowed to go forward with the vote nonetheless.
Catalan authorities routinely ignore the court docket’s selections as they don’t recognise its legitimacy.
In his first public feedback for the reason that Catalan authorities signed a decree calling the referendum, Spain’s King Felipe VI mentioned the rights of all Spaniards shall be upheld in opposition to “whoever steps outdoors the constitutional and statutory regulation”.
But constitutional regulation professor Javier Perez Royo mentioned it will be tough for the state to cease the referendum if big numbers of Catalans disobey the regulation and vote.
– Economic worries –
Catalonia, which is roughly the scale of Belgium and accounts for about one-fifth of Spain’s financial output, already has important powers over issues akin to training and healthcare.
But Spain’s financial worries, coupled with a notion that the area pays extra in taxes than it receives in investments and transfers from Madrid, have helped push the reason for secession from the fringes of Catalan politics to centre stage.
Hundreds of hundreds of Catalans rallied on Monday in Barcelona on their nationwide day to demand their area’s secession from Spain and assist the proper to vote.
One massive banner on the rally learn: “Goodbye Spain”.
Opinion polls present that Catalans are evenly divided on independence. But over 70 p.c need a referendum to happen to settle the matter, just like the plebiscite held in Scotland in 2014.