- Catalan regional president Artur Mas appeared in court today in Barcelona after calling an independence vote
- Mas, 59, wants the region to sever ties with Madrid and form its own independent state as soon as 2017
- The politician accused the Spanish judiciary of acting in a ‘political fashion’ with their ‘civil disobedience’ charge
Thousands of people took to the streets to support the Catalan regional president as he was summoned to appear before Spanish judges to face civil disobedience charges over his decision to call an independence referendum.
Artur Mas appeared in court today to contest court charges against him for staging a ballot on independence from Spain, in the latest skirmish of his secessionist battle with Madrid.
The Catalan independence movement has raised political tensions in Spain as it recovers from several years of recession and prepares for a general election on December 20.
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Catalan regional president Artur Mas, pictured centre, held a massive rally in Barcelona after he appeared in court earlier today
Mas, pictured leaving court, is accused of ‘civil disobedience’ in his decision to call an independence referendum in November 2014
More than 3,000 people lined the streets, as supporters, many of them waving Catalan flags as Mas claimed the court case was ‘political’
Thousands of cheering supporters rallied outside the courthouse in Barcelona as Mas went before a judge for questioning over charges of civil disobedience and misuse of public funds in organising the vote on November 9, 2014.
Speaking outside the court, the 59-year-old told supporters: ‘I hold myself responsible for all of this. I am not avoiding any of my responsibilities.’
Defending the unity of Spain, the central government says holding an independence vote is against the constitution since all Spaniards have the right to decide on matters of sovereignty.
Mas’s allies have branded the case politically motivated and accuse Spanish authorities of going after him to disrupt his drive for the rich northeastern region to secede.