An independence rally in Catalonia

CATALONIA leaders are facing criminal charges after paving the way for an independence referendum earlier today.

Spanish prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza told reporters that ‘criminal charges are being prepared’ against leaders of the Catalan parliament as well as officials in the regional government.

Maza also said judicial officials would be ordered ‘to seize the effects or material intended to prepare or hold the illegal referendum’.

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He added that regional prosecutors, assisted by national and Catalan police had been told to investigate any actions taken to organise the vote, with potential charges of ‘disobedience’, ‘prevarication’ (wilful deceit) and ‘misuse of public funds’.

Meanwhile, Spain PM Mariano Rajoy said Catalan leaders had committed an ‘intolerable act of disobedience’ in approving the referendum, and that his government was asking Spain’s Constitutional Court to annul the referendum law.

He also said all municipalities in the region would be warned over their ‘obligation to impede or paralyse’ efforts to carry out the vote.

A Catalan government spokesman has since insisted that the referendum will go ahead despite a ‘covert state of siege’ being imposed Madrid.

“Whether it’s snowy or windy, we will do it because we have a contract with the citizens of Catalonia,” Jordi Turull said.

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