Spanish state prosecutor starts investigations against 712 Catalan mayors

Catalonia: More than 700 Mayors Called to Court

Catalonia: More than 700 Mayors Called to Court

The Catalan government's draft referendum bill stipulated that if a majority of Catalans vote for independence, Catalonia would secede within 48 hours of the result.

In a boost for the credibility of the referendum, the mayor of Barcelona said earlier on Thursday that the vote would go ahead in the city, having previously expressed concern that civil servants involved may lose their jobs.

The system would be in place "during the time that this exceptional situation lasts", the finance minister added, to "prevent a situation in which the leaders of Catalonia hurt the citizens".

"The will of the (Catalan) government is to continue to focus on dialogue and the exercise of democracy as a way to resolve the debate on political relations between Catalonia and Spain", the letter said.

The Catalans are defying a court order to suspend the 1 October vote.

In response to the Spanish government's latest move, the Catalan authorities have urged the region's mayors to take to the streets of Barcelona in protest on Saturday.

He said the arrangement implied "political control that is not related to the objectives of budget stability or to the purposes of state legislation in this matter".

Montoro said he would appear before parliament next week to give the full details of the measures which would also include a demand by Madrid that the central government oversees all short-term debt operations by the regional government.

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"We have reached this moment stronger than what many had thought and wanted, as we are proving by responding firmly to each threat", he said.

Among the most populated cities, many will not get involved, and question marks remain over the biggest of them all - Barcelona.

The state prosecutor has called for the mayors to be arrested if they fail to comply with the summons.

The decision follows a series of moves to block a Catalan referendum on self-rule, planned for October 1, which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government has declared illegal. An open dialogue without conditions. Catalonia's vote on breaking away from Spain is deemed illegal and has been suspended by the constitutional court.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, indicated yesterday that the European Union would recognise the independent state of Catalonia if the referendum voted yes.

The letter accused the Spanish state of "an unprecedented repression offensive".

Although polls show less than half of Catalonia's 5.5 million voters want self-rule, most in the wealthy northeastern region want the chance to vote on the issue, causing unease that is beginning to be felt in financial markets.

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