The top state prosecutor in Spain said Thursday that he would file criminal charges against the leaders of the Catalan referendum, an independence vote set to go ahead next month over the objections of the government in Madrid.
On Wednesday, the autonomous Catalan parliament voted to approve a bill for the independence vote. The binding referendum will be held on October 1.
— Carme Forcadell (@ForcadellCarme) September 6, 2017
Prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza said the leaders of the regional government will be charged for calling for the referendum, while a separate lawsuit targets members of the Catalan parliament who permitted the vote. Under the terms of a 2015 law, public servants can be suspended from office if they violate the constitutional court’s rulings.
Speaking after an urgent cabinet meeting on Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the referendum bill was intolerable, illegal and an attack on Spain’s institutional order.
Following the vote, the Spanish government asked the constitutional court to stop the Catalan referendum. Madrid maintains that the Spanish constitution does not allow regions to determine their own sovereignty.
Catalan independence parties
Catalonia, located in north-east Spain, has a high degree of autonomy already. While it shares jurisdiction with Madrid in judicial and other matters, the Catalan parliament has gained greater autonomy in other areas, including commerce, since the late 1970s.
The Junts pel Si (“Together for Yes”) separtist party and the pro-independence Candidatura d’Unilat Popular (Popular Unity Candidacy) party coalition has held a majority in the regional parliament since 2015. Lawmakers on Wednesday approved the referendum vote by 72 votes with 11 abstaining.
If voters approve the independence bid next month, the Catalan government would be bound to declare independence within 48 hours.