November 18, 2014 / 12:18 PM / in 3 years

Spain files suit against Catalonia head over secession vote

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s state prosecutor will sue Catalan leader Artur Mas for defying a court ruling and holding a symbolic vote on the region’s independence from the rest of the country.

Catalan President Artur Mas attends a news conference assessing the results after Catalans voted in a symbolic independence vote in Barcelona, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Albert Gea

If successful, the legal action against Mas - likely to be on charges of disobedience and provocation - could block him from taking part in future regional elections.

An estimated two million Catalans voted on Nov. 9 on secession from Spain in a symbolic plebiscite which the Constitutional Court had suspended while it considered its legality.

The suit was previously rejected by the Catalonian prosecutor’s own office. It could stretch beyond Mas to other members of the regional government involved in the vote.

Because of the legal restrictions set on the vote, the ballot was set up and manned by grassroots pro-independence organizations, though the state prosecutor is likely to argue that Mas’ own participation in steering the consultation was in defiance of the suspension.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Writing by Paul Day, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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