Catalan government slams 'political' case against leader

29th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Catalonia's regional government Tuesday denounced as politically motivated a lawsuit against its leader Artur Mas who is accused of illegally holding a ballot last year on independence from Spain.

The administration's spokeswoman Neus Munte described the case as "a political lawsuit" after a court summoned Mas to face possible charges.

The move by the Catalonia high court intensified a bitter standoff between Mas and the Spanish government, after he and his separatist allies won control of the regional parliament on Sunday.

"We are faced with a political lawsuit, the political orchestration of a case brought by the state prosecution service," Munte told a news conference.

"We are faced with quirks and a democratic anomaly concerning the prosecutors and the Spanish government in order to prosecute the person who on November 9, 2014, set up the ballots so the citizens of Catalonia could express themselves."

In a judicial investigation dating back to last year, the court called Mas to go before a judge on October 15, in a written ruling.

Prosecutors accuse him of civil disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement of public funds for pressing ahead with last November's ballot.

He held that ballot as a non-binding symbolic vote on independence, after Spain secured a court injunction preventing him from organising a full-blown referendum.

Mas then called a snap regional election on September 27 and campaigned in a pro-independence alliance.

He declared victory in Sunday's regional election after his alliance won enough seats to control the parliament if it makes a coalition with radical left-wing separatists.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted he would not negotiate on demands for independence and vowed to defend the "unity" of Spain.

© 2015 AFP

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