The Catalan government has promised to hold a “binding” independent referendum this year in response to a evenly split Catalan community with half willing to stay part of Spain and half eager for Catalonia to be recognised as an independent state.
Madrid, however, is set on blocking the move putting Fransesc Homs of the Catalan Democratic Party on trial for holding an “illegal” referendum in 2014 that saw 89 percent of Catalans in favour of independence.
During the trial, separatist supporters gathered in the streets of Madrid in solidarity.
Earlier in February Catalonia’s separatist government denounced reported plans by Madrid to close schools in the northeastern region and take control of the police to stop the contested referendum.
On March 13, Former Catalan President Artur Mas was barred from public office for two years by a court in Barcelona for organising an illegal vote on the independence in 2014. He was also fined 36,500 euros. Two of his officials, Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau, were also convicted with Ortega barred 21 months and Rigau barred for 18 months as well as receiving lesser fines.