The December 21 ballot might backfire on the Spanish Prime Minister.
During a hearing at the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday morning, the head of the Catalan anti-fraud office, Daniel de Alfonso, said Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera had come to see him to offer support, but only in exchange for dirt on his political rivals.
"M. Rivera came to see me and told me he would support me but he asked me to give them something", said Mr. De Alfonso.
On Wednesday, Público published recordings of De Alfonso in a private conversation with Spanish Home Secretary Jorge Fernández Diaz about how to frame Catalan separatist parties, politicians and their relatives.
De Alfonso also said some regional MPs had sent him private messages of support, and that 90% of the information his office dealt with originated in political parties.
"I might have let myself be recorded"; he said in reference to the conversations: "but not used".
He said he had offered to resign before his team—"it would have been the easy option"—but that they had rejected the idea.
At the time of publication, Mr. Rivera had not made any public statements refuting the allegation.
Catalan public broadcaster Televisió de Catalunya issued a statement late on Tuesday evening "lamenting" the "symbolic burning of some pages of a book with false covers that emulated the Spanish Constitution".
The TV station took down the online copy of presenter Empar Moliner's show segment, though, just in case, saying it had done so because it was sorry they had "caused offence". The station said it guaranteed they would not be rebroadcast on its channels.
"Empar Moliner works with "Els Matins" (Mornings) and does satirical, ironic, sharp critiques in a comedy segment during the final part of the show", said the statement.
"In yesterday's gag, Moliner made a metaphorical denouncement of the Constitutional Court's decision, which she understood as discrimination against the rights of the worst off, with the symbolic burning of some pages of a book with false covers that emulated the Spanish Constitution".
Empar Moliner, a presenter on TV show Els Matins (Mornings), broadcast on Catalan public channel TV3, burnt a copy of the Spanish Constitution live on air during her commentary segment on the show on Monday morning.
Ms. Moliner ripped pages out of a copy of the Constitution as she spoke, tossing them into a metal waste bin. She then lit the contents with a match: "Look how well it burns!".
She was making a point on the injustice of a Constitutional Court ruling striking down a Catalan energy law which aimed to stop energy companies cutting off supply to poor families. "Poor Catalans will have to warm up with any book they have [to hand] as a heater", she said.
TV3 has uploaded the full clip to its website, with the title "When warming up in winter is unconstitutional".
PP spokesman Pablo Casado said that his party "demands an apology from TV3 for allowing a Constitution to be burned". He labelled the stunt "worthy of totalitarian regimes".
The 13 young women who died in the coach crash in Freginals (Catalonia) on Sunday were from six different countries, the regional interior minister Jordi Jané said on Monday morning. Seven were from Italy, two from Germany, and one each from Romania, Austria, France and Uzbekistan. "The eldest was 25 years old, and the youngest 19", he said, adding that some of those injured whom were classified by doctors yesterday as "critical" had improved today to "very serious".
The coach driver, who was set to appear before a judge on Monday morning to answer questions on reckless manslaughter, has been admitted to an intensive care unit with a lung infection and did not appear in court. Mr. Jané repeated that what appeared to have happened was that the coach had run onto the right-hand hard shoulder of the motorway and the driver had then reacted by swerving sharply to the left, hitting and crossing over the central reservation.
On Friday evening, Standard & Poors said it was delaying the publication of a new scheduled credit rating for Catalonia for two weeks whilst it considered an appeal from the Spanish region regarding a new rating on Catalan debt, currently rated BB-/B, and placing the region on "creditwatch negative". "The Autonomous Community of Catalonia has requested to appeal Standard & Poor's rating decision", said the agency, which agreed to consider the appeal. "In accordance with Standard & Poor's "Calendar Of 2016 EMEA Sovereign, Regional, And Local Government Rating Publication Dates," published on Dec. 22, 2015, we were scheduled to publish a credit rating action on Catalonia today. Catalonia requested an appeal of Standard & Poor's rating decision. After we determined that the conditions for making such an appeal had been met in accordance with our policies and procedures, we placed our ratings on Catalonia on CreditWatch negative pending the outcome of the appeal. As a consequence, the publication initially scheduled for today has been postponed until the outcome of the appeal and resolution of the CreditWatch placement", said the statement.
A judge in Barcelona, Miguel Ángel Tabares Cabezón, ruled to free a self-confessed paedophile on bail on Saturday evening, but confiscated his passport to prevent him from leaving the country and ordered him to appear each week before the court, El Periódico reported. The judge also banned Joaquín Benítez—a former physical education teacher who worked for 27 years at the Maristas Sants-Les Corts Catholic school in Barcelona—from taking part in any cultural or educational activities with minors. Two El Periódico journalists who interviewed and photographed Benítez on Friday were also called as witnesses. 10 victims—former pupils—have now come forward and five have so far given statements to police. The father of one of the boys, whose efforts led to the discovery of Benítez, said on Saturday that he had received e-mails from other abused boys who were not pupils at the Catholic school, accusing Benítez of molesting them whilst working as a sports coach.
Josep Gargantè, a Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) councillor in Barcelona City Hall, said during a session to debate withdrawing the Catalan capital's gold medal from Princess Cristina—in the dock in Palma de Mallorca on fraud charges this month—that: "If the King wants the crown, we will give him the crown: let him come to Barcelona, and we will slit his throat". In the Catalan tune, described variously as an "anonymous" or "popular" hymn, the verses rhyme. The local CUP group later told Europa Press that Mr. Gargantè "had not meant to threaten the monarch", that the song's lyrics "are harsh, but the life of a subject is also very harsh", and that his statements had been taken out of context. The council approved the motion, proposed by Republican Catalan Left (ERC, Esquerra), to withdraw the gold medal from Princess Cristina.
Former Catalan First Minister Artur Mas is now also a former member of the regional parliament, the Catalan government announced in a (very) brief statement on Wednesday evening. "The former First Minister of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, has resigned his seat as an MP in the Catalan parliament today", it read. Mr. Mas said on Saturday, when he announced he was proposing Carles Puigdemont as the next First Minister, that he would not take a role in the new regional government, but rather work towards "recreating" his party, Convergència, which he had transformed quite radically over the past few months—in the middle of separatist negotiations and corruption scandals—to fight the regional elections on September 27 and then the general election on December 20.
King Felipe will not receive the pro-republican Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, so that she might inform His Majesty in person of the appointment of the new separatist First Minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, on Sunday evening. She had suggested on Sunday that an audience had been requested, and said in an interview on Monday morning that the notification could also happen in writing. The Royal Household told The Spain Report on Monday afternoon that a message had been sent to the Catalan Parliament asking that the notification happen in writing, via the head of the King's household. The Catalan Parliament said in a statement it had e-mailed the message to His Majesty. Zarzuela refused to comment on the different interpretations being given to the method of communication in the Spanish press, given the delicate political situation, restricting itself to pointing out it was normal for different Spanish regions to notify the King in different ways.
FC Barcelona tweeted its congratulations to the new First Minister of Catalonia on Sunday evening, mixing football and politics: "Congratulations, First Minister Puigdemont. May skill be with you all in this historic and thrilling phase our country, Catalonia, begins today". Spanish Twitter users were heatedly divided on the merits of the tweet.
Jordi Turull, speaking for Junts Pel Sí, the other half of the separatist deal, spent most of his reply praising Artur Mas.
Anna Gabriel, speaking for the CUP (the party that has done the separatist deal with Junts Pel Sí) said her party had not given up its core values to do the deal and that Mr. Puigdemont now had the "enormous responsibility" of steering Catalonia towards a republic.
Xavier García Albiol, leader of the Popular Party in Catalonia, gave the most combative speech of the evening so far, promising those listening, "Catalans and Spaniards" several times that the PP would not allow Catalonia to secede from Spain.
El Nacional published a list of the regional ministers who will make up Carles Puigdemont's new separatist government. La Vanguardia published a very similar list. Both newspapers said the leader of Republican Catalan Left (ERC, Esquerra), Oriol Junqueras, would become the Deputy First Minister and regional Economy Minister.
Mariano Rajoy will make an unscheduled statement from Moncloa "from 8:30 p.m. onwards", a spokeswoman for the Spanish Prime Minister's office confirmed to The Spain Report. Asked if the statement would be on Catalonia given its unscheduled Sunday nature, she replied "that is very likely".
Lluis Rabell, speaking for Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot (Podemos), slammed the Catalan independence project as a dreamy "bluff" and said that after not winning the "plebiscite" at the September 27 elections, "everything has been outrageous".
Miquel Iceta, the leader of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC, PSOE, 16 seats), argued that separatist groups were about to forge ahead with their plan despite not really having political legitimacy to do so.
Inés Arrimadas, replying for Ciudadanos (25 seats), said Mr. Puigdemont was not ready to become First Minister of all Catalans given his separatist background and acquiescence to Mr. Mas, and that he had completely forgotten about the issue of corruption affecting his party.
The session has resumed after its break and opposition replies have begun. Each parliamentary group (there are six in total) can have up to 30 minutes to reply. There has been some talk of the pro-indy groups either giving very short replies or waving their turn to speed up the session before the deadline later tonight. We will find out shortly if that is going to happen. Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas is up first.
Mr. Puigdemont finished outlining his pro-independence government plan and the Speaker called a break of 20 minutes.
After announcing the previous priorities, including the creation of a Catalan Social Security agency, Mr Puigdemont continued speaking for several minutes with a long shopping list of promises his government would fulfil, mixing the original separatist plan with extra welfare measures for the CUP, and touching almost the entire spectrum of Catalan voter interests, from more welfare measures to better education, more help for small businessmen, a renewed drive to support industry and exports, support for scientific research, the environment, a national water agreement, "responsible and quality" tourism and commerce, competitive infrastructure and…a Catalan central bank. As per the secessionist road map, Mr. Puigdemont said there would be "an agenda of negotiations with the Spanish state and a European and international agenda".
Following his opening remarks, Mr. Puigdemont spent some time outlining his plan for separatist government in Catalonia, with measures including "culminating the independence process", building the structures of state, passing "necessary" new laws, beginning a constituent process in the region, and making the independence process more international. "The decisions of the Catalan Parliament are sovereign", he said, adding that "The Catalonia we want to build has to be a fairer, more equitable, more cultured, healthier country". He said the region could only safeguard its education system as an independent state. He also made conciliatory remarks towards the CUP, on whose support the new government now depends: "Beating the social crisis depends on the network of the welfare state". "One of the priorities of this chamber", he continued: "is the creation of the Catalan social security agency".
Carles Puigdemont, Artur Mas's hand-picked candidate for First Minister of Catalonia, began his remarks after Mrs. Forcadell opened the confidence debate:
Regional MPs, including Artur Mas, the outgoing First Minister, and Carles Puigdemont, the new, rather sudden candidate, have filled the chamber in Catalonia to begin the confidence debate, and Mrs. Forcadell declared the session open and said the only item on the order of the day was the confidence debate in Mr. Puigdemont, who is about to begin his speech. Mr. Mas was welcomed into the chamber with applause. You can watch the debate live at this link.
The Catalan parliament's spokespersons committee is in session prior to the confidence debate in Carles Puigdemont, due to begin at 5 p.m. Spanish time.
The Speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, has formally proposed Carles Puigdemont as the new candidate for First Minister of Catalonia, two hours before the confidence debate is scheduled to begin. The Catalan Parliament e-mailed a copy of the document signed by Mrs. Forcadell and a photo of her signing it. The proposal reads: "In accordance with article 4 of November 5 law 13/2008, regarding the leadership of the government of Catalonia, and having consulted with parties and political groups with parliamentary representatives, I propose to the chamber that the MP Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó be the candidate for First Minister of the Catalan government".
The leader of the Popular Party in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, has said he has petitioned the (pro-independence) Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, to suspend the confidence debate this evening on a technicality, citing Article 82 of the 264-page regional parliamentary rule book, which requires a two-day period between the provision of the documentation any debate is based on and the debate beginning "unless the Speaker's committee decides otherwise", so there is not much chance of the debate being cancelled. The PP holds 11 seats in the regional chamber.
Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) spokesman Antonio Hernando said during a brief press conference without questions on Sunday that the PSOE is "not going to accept idea of break away or allow Catalan citizens to be divided, or the separation of Catalonia from Spain", and that his party believed the Catalan parliament had already approved a "unilateral declaration of independence and a road map to make it happen" on November 9 last year, the "biggest challenge to the current constitutional order". "The aim of the agreement reached yesterday by Junts Pel Sí and the CUP", he said: "is the disconnection from Spain in 18 months time". The PSOE has an "unwavering commitment to the unity and integrity of Spain, our defence of the Constitution and our rejection of the acts that might lead to non-compliance with the law or the constitution". He said the new Catalan government "must respect all of the terms of the Constitution Court ruling that struck down the separatist declaration of November 9" and that the PSOE supported "the interim government to enforce respect for the law and defend the constitution".
A reminder of the Catalan parliament rules sent out by the parliamentary press office on Sunday morning leave little room for last-minute hiccups during the debate and vote this evening. Opposition groups have their turns time limited.
Given the secessionist plan and the 11:59 p.m. deadline for the vote, we can expect relatively brief opening remarks from Mr. Puigdemont. The initial replies by parliamentary groups could take up to three hours.
The vote of confidence in Carles Puigdemont and the preliminary parliamentary debate will begin at 5 p.m. Spanish time (in 6 hours), the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, confirmed on Twitter. The Catalan Parliament said on its Twitter account that the debate would take place after a meeting of the Speaker's committee at 4 p.m.. The Spain Report will be live blogging the debate for you.
Antonio Baños, the leading CUP spokesman during the three months of failed negotiations with Junts Pel Sí (Together For Yes) to re-appoint Artur Mas First Minister of the region, resigned his seat as a regional MP on Tuesday, one day after his party's political council decided to definitively reject the re-appointment of Mr. Mas. In a copy of the resignation letter reproduced in VilaWeb, Mr. Baños said his departure was due to "strictly political motives" and that he was "incapable" of defending the majority decision reached on Sunday, which was contrary to the reasons he became an MP in September: "this legislature was about the irreversible rupture with the Spanish state and, furthermore, the construction of a republic via a popular, social constituent process". He said he felt a sense of "personal frustration" over the outcome.
A confidence vote to appoint a new First Minister in Catalonia, which had been pencilled in for Monday, has not in the end been scheduled, the Catalan Parliament told The Spain Report, but there is still time for a last-minute vote to be attempted, should political circumstances change this week. On Sunday afternoon, minority Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP, 10 seats) voted not to support the re-appointment of Artur Mas. Parties "have until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night" to vote on a candidate, a parliamentary spokeswoman confirmed, but the deadline is for the vote, and a confidence debate is required before the ballot takes place. The regional parliamentary rule book says after that hour, the interim First Minister must "immediately" call new elections, which would have to be held 40-60 days later (between February 19 and March 10). CUP spokeswoman Anna Gabriel said during a radio interview on Monday morning that a non-Mas left-wing candidate such as Oriol Junqueras (ERC, Esquerra) or Rául Romeva (Junts Pel Sí) would be acceptable to her party and receive their "unanimous" support.
The second-round CUP ballot reduced the difference between the votes in favour of or against supporting the reappointment of Artur Mas even further, again tilting slightly against Mr. Mas.
With 20 null or blank votes. After the first round, there was a difference of 59 votes, with 227 for the other options. After the second round, the difference was 30, with 48 elsewhere. The third option—to reject the agreement but allow Mr. Mas to be re-appointed to avoid new elections—is now discarded. A third ballot will now take place.
CUP members voted against re-appointing Artur Mas First Minister of Catalonia in the first of three rounds of voting on Sunday, with 1,418 members preferring the second of four options, which would lead to new regional elections, but the difference was down to a couple of hundred votes.
There were 15 null or blank votes. The fourth option—of rejecting both Mr. Mas's reappointment and further negotiations with Junts Pel Sí—will now be discarded in the second round of voting. El Món reported 70 more members had registered to vote following the first ballot.
Evaluating the general election result, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said during a press conference that the priority for his party during the upcoming negotiations to form a government was constitutional reform and that the party was in favour of a referendum on the question of Catalan independence. "These results make it clear this is a plurinational country", he said, adding that he thought Podemos was the only national force capable of putting together a new territorial deal for the organisation of Spain.
The Catalan Land Institute (INCASÒL) confirmed in a press release on Monday that it had allocated a 150,808 m2 plot of land known as Mas Blau II to Amazon for €30 million. "The land is located a few minutes from the El Prat airport", said the statement: "in one of the most important economic and industrial areas of […] Barcelona". Amazon will be allowed to build up to three stories high. "The main permitted use", said the statement: "is logistics", along with the "complementary" offices, shops and restaurants. INCASÒL said it would be building a 3.5 km, 15,000 KW underground power line at a cost of €1.2 million. La Vanguardia reported Amazon would use the site as its Southern European logistics hub and that the company would undertake a process of due diligence before signing the final agreement. Amazon had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
The Spanish Home Office said two Moroccan nationals resident in Spain—a man and a woman—arrested in Mataró (Catalonia) and Pájara (Canary Islands) on Tuesday were "part of the structure of the DAESH terrorist organisation", held Spanish residency permits and "had already sworn public loyalty" to the group "and its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi". The government says they had made "apology and glorification of terrorism" with multimedia materials online, made death threats in the name of the Islamic State in both Spain and France, "encouraged [others] to carry out terrorist attacks", sought to to "persuade the youngest levels of Spanish society" with "an idealised version of their struggle", and distributed instructions for building IEDs and "using long weapons". All of which, says the Home Office, "corroborates the new strategy" being used the Islamic State to "remotely incorporate recruits". Spanish police have arrested "100 jihadis" this year, and 175 in total since 2011.
Catalan government spokeswoman and interim Deputy First Minister Neus Munté said the "legitimacy of the Constitutional Court is zero" during a press conference in response to a quick ruling by the court on Wednesday morning that struck down the Catalan parliament's separatist declaration of November 9. She said the government had given new powers to the Constitutional Court rather than "deal with the situation in Catalonia", and added that the declaration had a "predictable, political intent". The court "never disappoints" when it comes to decisions on Catalonia, said Ms. Munté, adding the Catalan government was willing to negotiate "with Madrid and Europe", according to the clauses of the declaration approved on November 9. She also made reference to the ongoing impasse with the CUP over appointing a new First Minister in the region: "It is urgent that Catalonia have a new government to face the attacks from the central government with more strength".
As had been expected, Spain's State Council issued a report on Tuesday unanimously agreeing with the government's plan to present a legal challenge to the separatist declaration approved by the Catalan parliament on Monday. Europa Press said the report had found "sufficient legal basis" for the challenge before the Constitutional Court to go ahead. The council, which offers legal advice to the Spanish government, met on Tuesday morning to discuss the matter. El País reported the council also believed the Catalan parliament had awarded itself powers not granted to it by the Spanish Constitution. The council's report will now be used to prepare an extraordinary cabinet meeting that will likely be held on Wednesday, at which ministers will approve the government's challenge before the Constitutional Court, which is expected to accept the challenge on Thursday and order the immediate suspension of the Catalan declaration.
Senior public prosecutors in Spain are studying charges of seditious conspiracy for pro-independence politicians in Catalonia, El Español reported, citing sources in the Public Prosecutor's Office. "The most serious course of action under analysis is the criminal [option]", the news site said and, while a decision has not been taken: "experts in the Public Prosecutor's Office believe charges of seditious conspiracy could be brought against the leaders and promoters of the secessionist motion". The crime of sedition in the Spanish Criminal Code is specified for those who "rise up in a tumultuous manner to prevent, by force or outside of legal channels, the application of laws or [to prevent] any authority, official body or civil servant from legitimately carrying out their tasks and the fulfilment of their agreements, or of judicial or administrative decisions". "Authority figures" who encourage sedition can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
The Spanish government is ready to take control of the regional Catalan police force, the Mossos, and to cut financial aid to the region, the former editor of El Mundo, Casimiro García Abadillo, reported on Monday morning in the online version of the Spanish daily, writing that "Spain is facing the biggest political challenge in recent history". The paper cites a Home Office report saying there are only 300 pro-independence Mossos, out of a total force size of 17,000. Control of the Mossos would pass directly to Madrid. Cutting regional bailout financing would leave Catalonia on the brink of default and "there would be problems with the payment of civil servants' wages". The Attorney General's and Public Prosecutor's offices are also working on criminal charges against Carme Forcadell and Artur Mas, El Mundo said. The government intends to hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday and believes the Constitutional Court will rule on Thursday to suspend today's Catalan motion.
The Catalan parliament began debating a "solemn" declaration of rupture from Spain and the beginning of the creation of "an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic" at 10 a.m. Monday morning, after Spain's Constitutional Court, which the regional parliament is expected to vote to disobey, allowed the debate to go ahead in a ruling published on Thursday, saying it was "aware of the risk" the debate and vote entailed but that it would not suspend the motion before it was seen in parliament. Mariano Rajoy's government said it was ready to begin responding "immediately" to the secessionist challenge in Catalonia, and the Prime Minister is set to make a statement later from Béjar (Castilla y León). A second debate, a vote of confidence in Artur Mas as the proposed candidate for First Minister, will take place on Monday evening.
There is a "fully-fledged uprising" in Catalonia that must be "suffocated", Spain's Foreign Secretary, José Manuel García Margallo, said during an interview with Antena 3 on Monday morning, adding that "every time there is a crisis" in Spanish history: "we see these tensions", referring to similar episodes in 1640, 1714, 1931 and 1934. "it's not time for seduction", said Mr. Margallo: "what we now have underway is a fully-fledged uprising, made more serious by two problems: firstly, that it is being directed by an institution of state, not by a political force, […] and secondly that splitting Catalan society in two has not bothered them at all, or in setting that part of Catalan society, to whom they have promised a paradise lost, against the rest of Spanish society. When one encounters an uprising with these characteristics, the uprising [must be] suffocated.
In an interview with La Vanguardia during a visit to Madrid to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Spain's membership, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he did not believe Catalonia was in the group of territories considered by the UN to have the right to self-determination. He said one of the most positive features of Spain was its "respect for cultural, linguistic and historical diversity" and that he hoped a solution agreed upon via dialogue could be found. Asked if laws on self-determination were applicable to the situation in Catalonia, Mr. Ban replied: "Spain has continued to be a sovereign state in itself, including Catalonia. When one talks of self-determination, there are certain areas where the United Nations has recognised that right, such as territories without self-government. But I don't believe Catalonia is included in that category".
The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has had lunch with the leader of the opposition, Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) in Moncloa, the Prime Minister's official residence. Both Moncloa and the Spanish Socialist Party later issued the same statement and photo of the encounter. "Mariano Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez have agreed to work in coordination in defence of the Constitution, national unity, national sovereignty and equality for all Spaniards", said the statement. Asked about the lunchtime discussion between the two leaders, a spokeswoman for the Spanish Socialist Party told The Spain Report they had met to "discuss the situation in Catalonia", but would not elaborate further. On Tuesday, Mr. Rajoy spoke to both Mr. Sánchez and Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos) before making his institutional statement on Catalan separatists' parliamentary motion proposing the commencement of the secession process. Mr. Rajoy did not consult with Pablo Iglesias (Podemos).
The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, made a brief, unplanned institutional statement from Moncloa on Tuesday morning, in response to the news of the motion presented in the Catalan parliament by pro-independence groups, calling it "an act of provocation by those who mean to break the law because they know the law is not on their side". He said his government "guarantees and will guarantee" the rule of law in Spain and will not "renounce any of the mechanisms awarded to it by the Constitution and the law", for "as long as I am Prime Minister". Catalan separatists, he said, "are faced with the law and a government ready to use it" with "firmness and determination". Asked if he was going to use rules allowing him to suspend home rule in Catalonia, Mr. Rajoy said: "I guarantee that what is outlined in that resolution is not going to have any effect at all".
Spanish media reported on Wednesday morning that the Civil Guard had arrested Andreu Viloca, the treasurer of Artur Mas's party CDC (Convergencia, part of Junts Pel Sí at the Catalan elections in September), on suspicion of taking bribes in exchange for public works contracts. Mr. Viloca was arrested during a search of the party's central headquarters building in Barcelona. The director general of the Catalan government's public works department, Josep Antoni Rossell, was also detained. El Mundo reported 20 other homes, businesses and public companies were also being searched. El País reported seven other businessmen had been arrested. Wednesday's operation forms part of the anti-fraud case being investigated by a judge in El Vendrell (Catalonia). CDC party HQ was searched at the end of August.
Miguel Bernat, the chairman of trade union Manos Limpias, well known in Spain for presenting private prosecutions on a range of political questions where it believes the government is not fulfilling its duty to uphold the law, announced outside the High Court in Barcelona that his organisation had begun the paperwork to demand that minority separatist party CUP—on which the pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament now depends—be outlawed. He labelled the party "a criminal organisation" which is "calling on civil society to go against the constitutional order and that is very grave". On October 9, the CUP called for an immediate break with Spanish legality in exchange for supporting Junts Pel Sí in what it says is an already sovereign Catalan parliament. Mr. Bernat said Manos Limpias had submitted petitions to the Spanish Home Office and a investigating court.
The First Minister of Catalonia, Artur Mas, arrived at the High Court in Barcelona on Thursday morning to shouts of "independence" amid a sea of pro-independence supporters and separatist flags. He was received by some 400 secessionist mayors—their mayoral sticks raised high—Junts Pel Sí candidates Raúl Romeva and Oriol Junqueras (ERC), and Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs, among others, in a long walk to the courthouse steps which appeared entirely victorious in its nature. After Mr. Mas walked up the steps and waved to the crowd gathered below, those waiting sang Els Segadors with raised fists, then cheered and clapped. Mr. Mas is to face the judge's questions as part of a criminal investigation into his role as leader of the Catalan government prior to and during the simulated referendum on independence that took place on November 9, 2014.