Catalonia independence referendum: Spain threatens to ARREST mayors in favour of vote

Более миллиона человек вышли на митинг в Барселоне

Spain's prime minister is urging the people of Catalonia to refrain from taking part in a planned referendum on the region's independence that he says is unconstitutional.

The head of Catalonia's regional government, Carles Puigdemont, told journalists on Monday: "It's not an option that the referendum won't go ahead".

The Spanish attorney general's office said that out of 948 Catalan mayors, about 700 are under investigation for supporting the independence referendum scheduled for October 1, and those who don't appear at the prosecutor's office when called to do so could be arrested. Protesters said they hoped the vote would go ahead as planned on October 1.

Police have searched a Catalan printing house and a local weekly newspaper suspected of making ballots for the referendum while Spain's state prosecutor has launched criminal proceedings against Puigdemont and other Catalan officials. The following day, the Constitutional Court of Spain suspended the new law.

Those against independence complained that a day meant for all Catalans had been hijacked by the separatists - and even more so this year ahead of the referendum.

Commenting for the first time on the political crisis, Spain's King Felipe VI said people should respect Spain's constitution, which forbids secession.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy's government were granted a suspension by the Constitutional Court while judges decide on the legality of the poll.

He said Wednesday the rights of all Spaniards will be upheld against "whoever steps outside constitutional and statutory law".

"If anyone urges you to go to a polling station, don't go, because the referendum can't take place, it would be an absolutely illegal act", Mr Rajoy said.

Catalonia, which is roughly the size of Belgium and accounts for about one-fifth of Spain's economic output, and already has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare.

M - Up to a million Catalans have gathered in Barcelona to call for independence less than three weeks before the region is due to hold a vote on whether to break away from Spain, The Guardian reported.

Spain's economic troubles and a perception that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments from Madrid have helped push the secessionist movement.

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