Catalonia’s former President Artur Mas has accused the Spanish government of abusing its power.
It came on the last day of his criminal trial in Barcelona for staging a non-binding independence referendum in the region three years ago.
Mas , who is accused of disobeying Spain’s constitutional court by holding the vote, as well as perverting the course of justice, faces a 10 year ban from public office if found guilty.
Addressing the court, Mas said: “We did not disobey the Constitutional Court, we stood against the Spanish Government which forced the situation thanks to its privileged position and their abuse of power; they used the Constitutional Court to do that job for them. A job that they didn’t have the courage to do themselves from a political point of view.”
But, the public prosecutor Emilio Sanchez Ulled attacked Mas, accusing him of endangering democratic principles.
“This referendum broke all the rules of democracy in Spain and damaged the way we live together,’‘ he said.
On Monday, thousands of pro-independence supporters filled the streets outside Barcelona’s high court in support of Mas. They hope his trial will spearhead the push for independence.
From Catalan capital Euronews’ Cristina Giner said: “If Mas is convicted it will certainly affect the political debate in Spain and have an impact on the next referendum, which is expected to be held before the summer. It’s still not clear how the current Catalan government will organise the forthcoming vote without it being stopped in the courts.”