A court on Tuesday summoned Catalonia's president for questioning over an allegedly illegal 2014 ballot on independence from Spain, dealing separatists a blow two days after they won control of their regional parliament.
As Artur Mas claimed victory for his independence campaign in a regional election, the Catalonia high court called him for questioning on October 15 over his holding the earlier ballot on November 9, 2014 against a court order.
Prosecutors have accused him of civil disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement of public funds for pressing ahead with the vote.
The “public consultation” was held in place of a referendum after Spain's Constitutional Court blocked a poll on indendence from Spain stating that it was against Spanish law.
But the Catalan administration defied a court order blocking it and pushed ahead with a vote, labelling it a 'referendum lite' and stating that it would be purely symbolic.
More than 2.3 million people voted in Catalonia's symbolic independence vote with 80 percent of them backing secession from Spain.
Two other officials have also been summoned to court for questioning by a judge over the matter, the former vice-president of Catalonia Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau, the education minister.
The move by the Catalonia high court came as a bitter standoff between Mas and the Spanish government deepened after he and his separatist allies declared victory in Sunday's regional election.
Buoyed by that result, the separatists vowed to push on towards a declaration of independence by 2017 but Madrid promised to defend the unity of Spain.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated however that he would not negotiate on demands for independence.