World Bulletin / News Desk
Former Catalan president Artur Mas was banned from holding office for two years on Monday for organising an illegal 2014 independence referendum.
The 61-year-old, Catalan leader from 2010 until last year, was convicted of civil disobedience for organising the symbolic, non-binding poll in the wealthy northeastern region in defiance of a a ban by Spain's Constitutional Court.
Catalonia, a region with its own language and customs, has long demanded greater autonomy and separatists have for years tried to win approval from Madrid for an independence vote.
Spain's economic downturn has boosted the demands, with many Catalans resenting the taxes they pay to the central government in Madrid to subsidise poorer regions.
The Catalan government is committed to holding a new referendum with or without Madrid's permission by September, though the region's top legal body ruled earlier this month that only the Spanish state had the authority to call such a vote.
Anti-independence parties had asked for a legal opinion on the region's 2017 budget, which includes provisions for a referendum promised by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.
Calls for outright independence have increased in recent years. Polls show that Catalonia, which accounts for almost a fifth of Spain's economic output, is roughly split in half over breaking away.
Last Mod: 13 Mart 2017, 19:24