Spain’s Constitutional Court has ordered the suspension of a special session in Catalonia’s parliament, during which top officials of the region are expected to declare independence.
The court released a statement on Thursday and confirmed that its judges had temporarily suspended next week’s parliamentary session in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia.
A spokeswoman of the court said that judges “ordered the suspension of the plenary that has been called for Monday in the (Catalan) parliament.” The official said rival Catalan politicians could appeal the decision.
The ruling comes after Catalonia’s regional leader Carles Puigdemont said he would go ahead with plans to declare independence from Spain based on the results of a controversial referendum held on October 1. The vote, which came amid unprecedented tension between the autonomous region and the central government in Madrid, saw shocking scenes of police beating unarmed people.
The Constitutional Court had declared the referendum illegal while security forces did their best to halt it. Puigdemont has stressed that the results of the vote, which was not carried out according to regular electoral standards, had given legitimacy to the independence drive.
Spain’s decision to suspend Catalonia’s parliamentary session on the results of the referendum comes against the backdrop of calls by Catalonia’s opposition Socialist bloc for banning Monday’s session. Lawyers from the bloc say the regional parliament cannot rely on the results of the Sunday referendum for declaring independence.
Authorities have even warned that the region’s leaders could face prosecution if they ignore the court order and hold the session in defiance of the ban.
Puigdemont and his allies, who had ignored similar threats from Madrid before the referendum, say they are not afraid of going to jail if it is a punishment for their independence bid.