World News

Spanish government seeks criminal charges against Catalan leader

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s central government is seeing if it can bring criminal charges against the speaker of the Catalonian parliament for letting the assembly vote for independence, it said on Friday.

The Catalan parliament voted on Wednesday to continue with its plan to detach the wealthy north-eastern region from Spain, despite a ruling by the Spanish Constitutional Court annulling an earlier resolution to form an independent state.

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, deputy prime minister in the caretaker administration in Madrid, said the government had asked the Constitutional Court to annul the latest resolution and see if Catalan assembly speaker Carme Forcadell had broken the law by trying to press ahead with the independence plans.

A poll published last week showed support for Catalan independence growing at a time when political deadlock at the national level after two inconclusive general elections has prevented the formation of a new government in Madrid.

The survey, by the regional government’s official pollster, found 47.7 percent of Catalans supported independence, with 42.4 against.

The separatist movement in Catalonia, a region that accounts for almost a fifth of Spanish economic output and has its own language, surged during Spain’s economic crisis when it drew 1 million people onto the streets of Barcelona.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Julien Toyer and Robin Pomeroy