Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Catalonian police conduct searches, fearing secession

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

A Spanish judge ordered police to search a printer’s shop and two offices of a regional newspaper in Catalonia as part of an investigation into alleged preparations for an illegal referendum on independence for the prosperous northeastern region.

A Barcelona court on Saturday said the police searches took place on Friday in the towns of Valls and Constanti in southern Catalonia.

The court said the searches formed part of an investigation into possible disobedience, prevarication and the embezzlement of public funds by Catalan officials.

The regional Catalan newspaper El Vallenc reported that “four agents of the Civil Guard entered our newspaper.”

“The search took place hours after they had searched the Indugraf business,” the paper said.

Indugraf is a printer in Constanti.

Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont, who is leading the push for independence, said on Twitter that police were not “looking for ballots, they were looking for a fight.”

The court did not say what police were looking for in the searches.

Media speculation is that the printer and the newspaper could be connected to plans by the regional government to prepare for the independence referendum.

The Constitutional Court of Spain has suspended laws the Catalan parliament passed this week to call for an independence referendum on Oct. 1.

State prosecutors have also targeted Puigdemont and other members of his government with lawsuits for possible disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement charges.

The pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia said the vote would be binding and that if the “yes” side wins it would lead to independence from Spain by Oct. 3 no matter what the turnout.

The constitutional court has previously ruled that only the national government is allowed to call a referendum on secession and that all Spaniards in the country must have a vote when it comes to sovereignty.

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