Former Catalan president faces trial over illegal referendum

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Artur Mas

FORMER Catalan president Artur Mas will go on trial on February 6 charged with holding an illegal referendum. 

Mas played a central role in organising the 2014 vote on independence for the breakaway region in defiance of Spain’s constitutonal court. 

More than 80% voted in favour of seceding from Spain but, as turnout was well below 50%, the referendum was not binding, even for the Catalan government. 

Mas will go on trial alongside former vice president Joana Ortega and minister Irene Rigau. All three face a potential ten year ban from holding public office if found guilty. 

Known as a moderate, Mas held the presidency of the Catalan Generalitat from 2010 until January of this year. His prosecution comes amid heightened tensions between Madrid and regional separatists, with the national government using the courts to delegitimise parliamentary discussions on independence. 

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