Spain tries to exert control over Catalan police

Spain's conservative government has dealt a serious blow to Catalonia's plans to hold an independence referendum but it faces growing

Spain's conservative government has dealt a serious blow to Catalonia's plans to hold an independence referendum but it faces growing

The control of the Catalan police has become a sensitive topic as the political confrontation between the pro-independence regional government and central authorities has poured on to the streets of Barcelona and elsewhere in Catalonia.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution, and the Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.

Catalonia's regional parliament, which is controlled by pro-independence parties, has called a referendum for October 1, but the Spanish government has declared the vote illegal.

Even so, he remained confident there will be a large turnout of Catalans on October 1-whatever form the vote takes.

Catalonia's distinct language and traditions have underpinned. Catalonia is home to 7.5 million people, or 16 percent of the population, but accounts for a fifth of the economy, on par with Portugal and Finland.

The region's police forces - the Spanish civil guard, national police, and Catalan police (Mossos d'Esquadra) - are to be directed by Diego Perez de Cobos, a Spanish civil guard colonel, as announced by Catalonia's top public prosecutor.

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Catalan authorities despite the arrest of a dozen regional government officials and 10 million ballot papers being seized, the vote will take place. The Mossos watched impassively for more than 12 hours. It has called the referendum an illegal act and taken police and court action to block it.

They remain under investigation for disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement in relation to the planned referendum and were ordered to appear before the court every week.

"It should avoid letting political considerations jeopardize citizens' security and the country's image", the Association of Civil Guards said.

The Catalan government said Saturday it would resist Madrid's measures.

Any more direct challenge to the Mossos would be fraught with risk because Trapero, its leader, has become something of a local hero since leading the response to the terrorist attacks in August.

"I am not thinking about replacing anyone or anything yet", Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told reporters in Madrid on Thursday.

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