In the wake of a parliament-majority win by independence parties in last Sunday’s Catalonia region election, the strike-down of dissent by Madrid continues.
The Financial Times reports Secessionist Party Leaders to Appear in Court Over Role in Breakaway Vote.
Catalan president Artur Mas will have to appear as a formal suspect in court next month over his role in organising a non-binding independence vote last year that was fiercely opposed by Spain.
Tuesday’s announcement comes just two days after a closely watched election in the Spanish region that saw Mr Mas and other pro-independence leaders win a majority of seats in the Catalan parliament.
The two secessionist parties, Mr Mas’s Junts pel Si and the far-left CUP, argue the result gives them the mandate to break Catalonia out of Spain in the next 18 months.
The judicial move against the Catalan president is likely to further inflame tensions between the Spanish government and the regional government — and was immediately denounced by Catalan leaders as a political stunt.
Mr Mas and his colleagues are under investigation for committing an act of disobedience, which under Spanish law carries a sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
The news sparked sharp criticism from political leaders in Catalonia, many of whom accused the Spanish government of using the judicial system for political purposes.
Apart from the Catalan president, Irene Rigau, a regional minister, and Joana Ortega, the former vice-president of Catalonia, will also appear in court. All three have been declared formal suspects, a status that means they are just short of being formally charged.
Spain’s justice minister Rafael Catalá said that the decision to declare Mr. Mas a formal suspect had been taken after, not before, Sunday’s regional election, in an effort not to “contaminate” the democratic process.
If “contaminate” means “to not provide an even bigger majority for the secessionists”, I can accept the justice minister’s statement.
Big independence battles are just around the bend. Catalonia has about 16 per cent of the Spanish population and about 20 percent of the national economy.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock