INDEPENDENCE BID

“If the prosecutor is seeking someone to blame, it should be me” – Mas

Regional premier plays down threat of legal action against him over unofficial poll Several incidents reported in protest of independence vote in Catalonia region

A 93-year-old voter casts his ballot in Barcelona on Sunday.
A 93-year-old voter casts his ballot in Barcelona on Sunday.

The Catalan premier, Artur Mas, said on Sunday that the unofficial vote on independence for the northeastern Spanish region should serve to clear the way for a “definitive consultation” on a possible breakaway, one that, “if possible, should be agreed with the state.”

“We want to vote in a definitive consultation, with all its consequences,” he said after casting his ballot in Barcelona. “We have not yet won that.” The Catalan premier also sought to play down legal action that has been brought against the non-official poll on independence being held throughout the region on Sunday.

Spanish political party UPyD filed a lawsuit on Sunday morning against Mas for disobedience and perversion of justice for having gone ahead with the vote despite it being suspended by the Constitutional Court. The party, which is headed up by Rosa Díez, has called on the public prosecutor to stop the “participatory process” and detain its organizers. “I am not at all worried about it,” he said on Sunday. “I will not be intimidated.

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“If the public prosecutor is looking for someone to blame, it should be me,” Mas said in response to an order from the state attorney to the regional police force to file a report on the public centers that are being used for the vote. He also explained that the Mossos, as the Catalan police are known, would not be handing over the names of the directors of education centers who have opened their doors to voters. “We will not do it because today they are not school principals,” he said. “It’s Sunday, a free day, and they are volunteers.”

Mas, who came out to vote accompanied by his wife, Helena Rakosnik, called on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to “listen to the clamor of Catalonia,” and demanded that citizens be able to “say what the future of our country will be in a legal and agreed manner.” He added: “If Rajoy does not know what we are doing, he should leave the people of Catalonia in peace.”

By 1.30pm on Sunday, several incidents had been registered at polling stations in Catalonia. Around 50 protestors from the right-wing Falange and National Alliance groups set fire to a Catalan independence estelada flag outside the government delegation in Barcelona, while in Girona five men wearing ski masks were arrested after they entered a school and tried to violently destroy ballot boxes.

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