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Spain’s Attorney General says he would consider arresting Catalan president

Pro-independence politicians are seeking a “disproportionate response from the state, which would benefit them,” José Manuel Maza warns

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17 September 2017 02:41 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Spain’s Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, says he would consider arresting Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in order to stop the independence referendum to be held on October 1. The Catalan government has promised to carry out the vote despite suspension from the Spanish Constitutional Court. “I absolutely do not rule out asking for prison sentences,” Maza said in an interview with a Spanish newspaper published on Sunday.

  • “I absolutely do not rule out asking for prison sentences"

    José Manuel Maza · Spain's Attorney General

After a week in which some 700 Catalan mayors have been summoned to court for supporting the independence vote, Maza said that the social implications of barring them from office would not hold him back. “What I see is a possible crime, [which occurred] when they signed those decrees, and it’s not one person who has done it, but 700. We can’t make exceptions,” he said. “If it affects many people, then I’m sorry.”

Websites, posters and printing plates

In the  last few days, following orders from the public prosecutor, police have been carrying out several operations against the preparation of the referendum. For instance, they shut down the official referendum website, they raided several print-shops and newspapers, and they seized at least 100,000 referendum posters and printing plates. On Saturday, two major internet providers in Spain blocked access to an alternative referendum website, following judicial orders.

Caution and proportionality

Still, Maza does not forget what the overall goal is: to prevent the referendum from happening, and to maintain public order. Therefore, he thinks all actions from Spain’s institutions should be “cautious” and “proportionate”. “These gentlemen seek a disproportionate response from the state, which would really benefit them,” he said.

On October 1, the day set for the referendum, if the Spanish institutions have not managed to dismantle the preparations for the vote, Maza says their actions will have to be “more energetic.”

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  • Spain's Attorney General José Manuel Maza (left) and Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (by ACN)

  • Spain's Attorney General José Manuel Maza (left) and Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (by ACN)