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Spain to sue Catalan leader, officials over independence vote

 
 
 
 
 
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Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia is seen casting his ballot to vote in a symbolic referendum in Barcelona on Catalonia’s independence from Spain, November 9, 2014.

Spain’s chief prosecutor is set to launch a lawsuit against Catalonia’s President Artur Mas as well as other local officials over the autonomous region’s recent symbolic referendum on independence from Spain.

Eduardo Torres-Dulce is expected to investigate the alleged charges of disobedience and provocation brought against Mas, Catalan Deputy First Minister Joana Ortega, and Education Minister Irene Rigau for defying a suspension order by Spain’s Constitutional Court on the vote.

If successful, the legal action could prevent the Catalan president from taking part in future regional elections.

The final details of the legal challenge have yet to be determined. However, the prosecutor previously said that he wants to look into possible crimes including disobedience, perversion of the course of justice, improper conduct and misappropriation of funds involving the Catalan authorities.

This comes as Catalan government spokesman, Francesc Homs, has warned that the Spanish administration would expose itself to “extraordinary international ridicule” if it brought the charges against the region’s representatives.

The prosecutor has been under intense political pressure to finalize the suit, which comes in the wake of Catalonia’s November 9 vote.

According to regional officials, more than 2.2 million people, out of a total electorate of 5.4 million, participated in the vote.

The non-binding vote does not automatically lead to the secession of the region, but only gives the Catalan president the mandate to negotiate independence with the Spanish administration.

The wealthy northeastern region of Spain has a population of 7.6 million people, accounting for almost one-fifth of the country’s economy, and has been seeking independence for years.

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