THE Barcelona Provincial Court began questioning high-level Catalan separatists on Tuesday, October 13 over the ‘symbolic’ independence vote held last November in Catalonia.
The officials are charged with holding an illegal vote regarding independence for Catalonia from Spain.
Amongst those in court today were Irene Rigau, Regional Education Minister, and the former deputy leader of the regional government, Joana Ortega.
Artur Mas, the Catalan president, is seen as the leader of the independence campaign and is due in court on Thursday, October 15.
The charges are civil disobedience and misuse of public funds and have been filed after a non-binding ballot was held last November to gauge Catalan support for independence.
After Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy won a legal battle against a binding referendum, Mas organised a so-called ‘symbolic’ referendum in which 1.9 million out of 2.3 million Catalans voted in favour of independence.
The prime minister has defended his position on Catalonia by declaring any such separation as against the law. He continues this stance in the lead-up to the general elections on December 20.
Education minister Rigau spoke outside the court today and maintained that the vote was managed by volunteers and that she has not “given orders or instructions” to public education staff to place polling stations in any schools.