Catalan govt chief charged over independence poll

2015-09-29 18:59
Artur Mas (AP)

Artur Mas (AP)

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Madrid - Catalonia's leader, Artur Mas, was charged on Tuesday over the holding of a referendum on the northeastern region's independence in November.

A court in Barcelona named Mas and two members of his Catalan government as defendants, two days after secessionists won Catalan parliamentary elections. The court also invited Mas, who supports the region's independence, for questioning on October 15.

Mas had wanted to hold an official referendum on Catalonia's independence on November 9, but it was blocked by Spain's Constitutional Court. Instead, he organised a non-binding vote. It was also declared illegal by the judges, but it was held anyway.

Prosecutors accused Mas of failing to follow a court order, abuse of office and improper use of government money.

Catalan Education Minister Irene Rigau and the region's former vice president Joana Ortega were also named as defendants.

If convicted, Mas faces a ban from politics for several years.

Mas' Convergence and Union party charged that the investigation was politically motivated. "When you want to oust someone who has succeeded at the polls, it doesn't speak well for democracy," party spokesperson Pere Macias said.

The head of the Republican Left of Catalonia party, Oriol Junqueras, said, "This proves that we need an independent state for Catalonia."

Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala said the announcement of the investigation was made after the Catalan elections because the judicial system did not want it to influence the voting.

Read more on:    spain

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