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State prosecutor to sue Catalan president

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State prosecutor to sue Catalan president
The President of Catalonia Artur Mas could be investigated for crimes including misappropriation of funds . Photo: AFP
16:08 CET+01:00
Spain's state prosecutor-general has been given the green-light to investigate top Catalan politicians including president Artur Mas over possible crimes committed during the region's recent symbolic vote on independence.

State Prosecutor-General Eduardo Torres-Dulce is now a step closer to finalizing a law suit against Catalan president Artur Mas, vice president Joana Ortega and regional education director Joana Ortega after winning the backing of almost all of his fellow prosecutors at a meeting on Wednesday.

"The public prosecutor's office will take the appropriate legal actions in the High Court of Justice of Catalonia," the public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Torres-Dulce had sought their backing of fellow state prosecutors for the suit after his Catalan counterpart decided not to push ahead with legal action, arguing there were insufficient legal grounds to do so.

The final details of the suit have yet to be determined but Torres-Dulce has previously stated he wanted to investigate the Catalan politicians over possible crimes including misconduct, abuse of power, misappropriation of public funds and contempt of court.

Torres-Dulce, believes Mas was personally involved in the organization of Catalonia's vote and that it was backed by the Catalan government despite assurances from Mas that the ballot was to be organized by volunteers and civil bodies. 

The prosecutor has been under intense political pressure to finalize the suit since Catalonia's November 9th vote.

The Catalan government says 2.3 million took part in the unsanctioned vote which Mas decided to hold following a legal block by the central government against his plans to hold an official, non-binding referendum on the issue that day.

Of the 5.4 million voters aged over 16 who were authorized to vote, 1.86 million favoured independence, it said, although though no official census was carried out.

Mas has hailed the ballot, which was organised by over 41,000 volunteers, as a "total success" but Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has dismissed it as a "deep failure" since "two out of three Catalans paid no attention".

Catalonia's nationalist government has said it will now push for an official referendum similar to the one held in Scotland in September but Rajoy has already said he will not agree to this.

Mas has said that if he fails to reach an agreement with Rajoy over a referendum, he could call early regional parliamentary elections that might serve as a plebiscite on independence.

Demands for independence in Catalonia have grown over recent years despite Madrid's resistance, fanned by the economic crisis.

Catalans complain that their region does not receive investments in proportion to the taxes it pays and that the central government meddles in its linguistic and education policy.

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