Police detain Catalan mayor in separatist flag row

Mayor embroiled in fraud probe detained after refusing to remove 'estelada' flag from town hall

Police detain Catalan mayor in separatist flag row

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Catalan mayor was detained by police in Spain early Thursday morning after refusing to remove the region’s unofficial separatist flag -- the estelada -- from the local town hall.

Montserrat Venturos is the mayor of Berga, Barcelona, in the north-eastern region of Spain, close to the French border. She belongs to the far-left, separatist Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (CUP) Party.

Police arrested her at home for refusing to testify in court as part of an investigation into electoral fraud. The investigation began after she refused to remove the estelada flag from the town hall during regional and national elections.

Ada Colau, the left-wing mayor of Barcelona, tweeted: “Against the judicialization of politics, in defense of freedom of expression and municipal sovereignty: All my support for Venturos.”

The flag has proved controversial in the past. European football’s governing body FIFA fined Barcelona €150,000 ($170,000) in June after the club’s fans flew the “political” emblem at matches.

Catalonia's separatist government has been working on a road map towards independence from Spain since it was elected in September 2015.

Conflict between Spain and Catalonia is set to escalate over the next year, as the eastern region has vowed to hold an independence referendum next autumn, with or without Madrid’s permission.

On Thursday, Spain’s Constitutional Court backed legislation which approved new powers to suspend public officials who do not comply with its decisions.

Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2016, 13:17
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