Catalonia independence vote: Spain threatens to arrest 700 mayors

Catalonia: More than 700 Mayors Called to Court

The pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia has vowed to hold the referendum, defying a prohibition by Spain's Constitutional Court. The website set up by the Catalan government to give information on the vote, referendum.cat, stopped working on Wednesday evening, with Spanish media reporting that the regional prosecutor had ordered all websites promoting the referendum to be shut down.

Puigdemont himself is facing criminal charges of misuse of public money, disobedience and abuse of office for organising the referendum, and prosecutors have summoned hundreds of the region's mayors for questioning.

Speaking at a ceremony to award national culture prizes, Felipe says the constitution "will prevail" against any attempt to break Spain apart. Spain's national government strictly opposes the referendum and has threatened to arrest people behind the vote if they go ahead with their plans.

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

Catalonia's pro-separatist government has asked the northeastern region's 947 mayors to provide facilities for polling stations for the independence referendum.

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Spain's Constitutional Court suspended a referendum law that was fast-tracked through Catalonia's regional parliament last week. Many participants carried the pro-independence flag, known as the "estelada", which adds a blue triangle and white star.

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.

The decision affects the city halls of important Catalan towns and cities such as Figueres, Girona, Manresa, Vic, Cambrils, Tortosa and Sitges, whose majors will now be investigated "in relation with the presumed acts of cooperation in the organization of the illegal referendum".

While the stand-off between Barcelona and Madrid is creating divisions, the good-humoured celebration attended by families produced no signs of conflict. The crowd shouted in unison "Independencia!" after organisers counted down over a public address system to 5:14pm, which on a 24-hour clock is 1714.

"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.

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