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Spain Prosecutors Ask Catalan Mayors to Clarify Stance on Referendum

Spain Prosecutors Ask Catalan Mayors to Clarify Stance on Referendum

Many supporting the referendum argue that full sovereignty for Catalonia will benefit the region, especially amid the high unemployment rate and austerity measures that followed Spain's economic crisis, Jonathan Shafi, chairman of Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), told RT earlier this week.

If the "Yes" side wins the vote, Catalonia's regional government has vowed to declare independence within 48 hours and set about building a sovereign state.

So far, 712 municipal leaders have pledged to allow the use of public space for the October 1 vote, although the mayor of the area's main city Barcelona has not taken a definitive position. Protesters said they hoped the vote would go ahead as planned on October 1.

Spain's state prosecutor has summoned all 700-plus Catalan mayors who have backed an independence referendum, as Madrid seeks to block the separatist vote it has declared illegal. Maza said the possible charges against the mayors are the same as those for Puigdemont and his ministers who signed the decree calling the referendum: disobedience, abuse of power, and alleged embezzlement of public funds, which carry possible sentences of up to eight years in prison.

"They can arrest us, they're insane!", David Rovira, the pro-separatist mayor of L'Espluga de Francoli, a town of some 3,800 residents, told AFP by telephone, adding that Madrid had "proposed nothing" to appease Catalonia's demands for greater autonomy. - Region divided - Rajoy's conservative government has said the vote violates Spain's constitution, which states that only central authorities can call a referendum.

Catalan leaders say they will go ahead with the October 1 ballot anyway
Catalan leaders say they will go ahead with the October 1 ballot anyway

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

"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", he said.

Barcelona saw a massive outpouring of support for independence on Monday when Catalans marked their national day, the Diada, with marches and rallies.

The king added that the rights of all Spaniards will be upheld against "whoever steps outside constitutional and statutory law".

Catalonia, which is roughly the size of Belgium, accounts for one-fifth of Spain's economic output.

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