Spain’s state prosecutor on Wednesday summoned more than 700 mayors who are planning to allow public space for the Catalan referendum, an independence vote that Madrid says is illegal.
Jose Manuel Maza ordered an investigation into 712 mayors and ordered police to arrest them if they do not appear. According to news reports, the mayors agreed to provide municipal facilities in the October 1 Catalan referendum.
Last week, Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont asked the region’s 948 municipalities to back the vote by making available public spaces. The 712 who agreed are now to be investigated and could face criminal charges. Mayors of some cities, including Barcelona, have not yet agreed to cooperate.
Last Wednesday, lawmakers from the Junts pel Si (“Together for Yes”) separtist party and the pro-independence Candidatura d’Unilat Popular (Popular Unity Candidacy) party coalition approved the referendum vote by 72 votes with 11 abstaining.
The prosecutor already plans to charge leaders in the region who approved the Catalan referendum, while a separate lawsuit targets members of the Catalan parliament who permitted the vote.
Spain has declared the Catalan referendum illegal, and the government asked the constitutional court to stop the vote. Madrid maintains that the Spanish constitution does not allow regions to determine their own sovereignty.
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.
If voters approve the independence bid next month, the Catalan government would be bound to declare independence within 48 hours.