Artur Mas: Catalan president appears in Barcelona court

Catalan leader Artur Mas outside court in Barcelona (15 Oct) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Catalan leader Artur Mas told the court he was completely responsible for last year's vote

Catalan President Artur Mas has appeared in court in Barcelona for organising an independence vote.

Thousands of supporters sang the Catalan anthem and chanted "Down with Spanish justice" outside the court as he faced charges of disobeying a court ban on the November 2014 vote.

Hundreds of regional mayors joined the protest at the Catalonia Supreme Court.

About 80% of people backed Catalan independence from Spain in the non-binding vote.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police estimated that 3,000 people had turned out to voice support for Artur Mas

However turnout in Spain's north-eastern region was not high, with only 2.2 million people voting out of an electorate of more than five million.

Spain's central government in Madrid has pledged to challenge any unilateral moves towards independence in court, arguing such actions are against the constitution. National polls in Spain are to be held on 20 December.

The Catalan leader's supporters complain the judicial case against him and two colleagues is politically motivated. As well as civil disobedience, he faces charges of misusing public funds for the vote.

He told the court he was completely responsible for the vote but said: "I don't understand why I'm here giving explanations."

Last month, pro-independence parties in Catalonia won a majority in regional elections but fell short of securing 50% of the vote.

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