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Quim Torra: Spain's top court removes Catalan chief from office for 'disobedience'

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Catalan regional President Quim Torra leaves the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
Catalan regional President Quim Torra leaves the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.   -   Copyright  Manu Fernandez/AP
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Spain's Supreme Court has upheld a ruling barring Catalonia’s regional president from public office.

A panel of judges unanimously agreed on Monday to confirm a decision by a lower court last year to ban Quim Torra from holding public office for one-and-a-half years and fine him €30,000, the country's top court announced.

The case against him concerns his alleged refusal to take down yellow ribbons and other signs of support for jailed Catalan separatists on public buildings ahead of the 2019 general election.

It went against an electoral commission order from Madrid that stated all partisan symbols must be removed from public buildings in the lead up to the April election.

A Barcelona court ruled in December that his actions were civil disobedience and banned him from office for 18 months, prompting Torra to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The decision triggers a new period of uncertainty in Catalonia. According to the law, Torra's deputy should take over as president-in-charge until a new election is held in the region.

Police in Catalonia made preparations for possible demonstrations in the wake of the ruling.

The influential cultural institution Omnium Cultural calling on supporters to take to public squares across Catalonia.

Torra's plans to secure support for the separatist movement by holding an early election this year were put on hold by the coronavirus crisis.

It is now expected that the citizens of Catalonia will elect a new parliament in early 2021.

Torra became head of the region's government following the 2017 push for independence from Spain.

The staunch separatist said he would appeal the ruling.