Catalan independence: Mas called to court over 2014 referendum

Baku, September 30, AZERTAC

Catalonia's acting regional head Artur Mas has been summoned to court for his role in staging a vote on independence last year, according to BBC.

The Catalonia high court accuses Mr Mas of disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement of public funds.

Two days ago his pro-independence alliance won a majority of seats in elections for the regional parliament.

The Catalan regional government has denounced the lawsuit as politically motivated.

The separatist alliance, Together for Yes, said Sunday's result gave the parties a mandate to push for independence from Spain.

Mr Mas and two colleagues - Joanna Ortega and Irene Rigau - are accused of breaking the law by staging an unofficial ballot on 9 November last year.

The vote, which was not binding, went ahead despite fierce opposition by the Spanish government and an injunction by Spain's constitutional court.

Catalan officials said more than 80% of voters backed independence in the 2014 vote, although turnout was only around 40%.

Following an investigation dating back to late last year, the court called Mr Mas to go before a judge on 15 October.

If found guilty, he and the two officials could face a ban from public office and a possible prison sentence.

Josep Rull, a spokesman for Mr Mas's Democratic Convergence of Catalonia party, said the case showed the "central state's political cowardice".

He said the indictment would not stop the separatist leader running for president of the region.

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