Catalan officials’ homes seized to pay for independence referendum

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FORMER Catalan president Artur Mas’s home has been seized to cover the cost of the non-binding independence referendum organised by his government in 2014.

Spain’s Court of Auditors ordered Mas, along with eight senior Catalan government officials, to pay up €4.8 million – as well as €400,000 in interest – to pay for the expenses generated by the referendum, which were paid for out of public funds.

The court also seized half a house in Taradell belonging to Francesc Homs, the former Catalan government spokesman, as well as the estates of three more former Catalan officials.

The accused had only managed to pay €2.9 million up to this point, so the assets were seized to act as a guarantee until the rest of the money is paid.

However, the seizure of the homes does not mean their owners will be evicted straight away as the case is still being investigated, so the former Catalan Government representatives won’t lose their homes unless they are found guilty and are unable to come up with the rest of the funds.

The 2014 referendum organised by Artur Mas and his government, who were in power in Cataluña from 2010 to 2016, was declared illegal by Spain’s high court and had no binding impact on the region’s independence movement.

Carles Puigdemont, Mas’ successor, went ahead with another referendum on October 1 – which was also ruled illegal – that led the region to declare independence on October 27.

Following the announcement, the central government suspended the region’s autonomy and sacked the Catalan parliament, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

An election will be held in the region to vote in a new government on December 21.

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