Catalan leader appears in court over independence vote

Madrid, Oct 15 (IANS) Catalan leader Artur Mas on Thursday appeared in a Spanish court over charges of disobedience related to the unofficial independence referendum held in the region on November 9, 2014.

The vote, which Mas has described as “an act of democratic rebellion”, went ahead with 2.3 million of Catalonia’s 7.5 million people voting in schools and colleges in the region, despite Spain’s Constitutional Court ruling it out from taking place, Xinhua news agency reported.

If found guilty, Mas, who is acting leader of the Catalan regional assembly in the wake of the September 27 regional elections, could be barred from public office.

The September 27 elections saw the pro-independence block, made up of Mas’ coalition “Junts Pel Si” (Together for Yes) and the Left-wing CUP party, win an overall majority of seats, but failed to claim 50 percent of the votes cast.

Mas had promised to immediately initiate moves towards Catalan independence if the pro-independence vote won a majority, although that is now unlikely to happen after CUP admitted there was still no mandate for such a move.

He was indicted to make Thursday’s court appearance just two days after the ballot although the Spanish government insists it had nothing to do with the timing of the decision.

Around 3,000 people, including 400 local majors, gathered outside the court to show their support towards Mas.

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