Catalonia lawmakers plan to defy Spanish courts by holding a meeting of their regional parliament Monday to decide whether to declare independence, a senior Catalan minister says.
“The parliament will meet. The parliament will debate,” Catalan foreign minister Raül Romeva told the BBC Friday.
Spain’s Constitutional Court had issued an order Thursday banning the parliamentary session, at which lawmakers will debate whether to declare the region’s long-sought secession from Spain over territorial and cultural differences, following the results of the recent independence referendum.
The Catalan government’s decision to defy the order comes as little surprise – it had ignored a similar order from the court, which banned the referendum as unconstitutional, by holding the ballot in the first place.
Catalan officials say more than 90 percent of those who voted in the Oct. 1 referendum supported independence – although only about 42 percent of eligible voters took part, with many of those in favor of remaining in Spain boycotting the banned ballot.
It comes after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said earlier in the week that the Catalan parliament would declare independence “in the coming days.” Romeva did not confirm that the region would declare independence, saying that the issue “will be decided in the parliament.”
In further fallout from the escalating standoff, Catalonia’s chief of police Josep Lluís Trapero was brought before a court in Madrid Friday under suspicion of sedition, accused of failing to protect Spanish national police from protesters during the clashes over the banned referendum. Just weeks earlier, Trapero had been widely hailed for his handling of the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
The Catalonia crisis has led to soaring tensions in the wealthy northeast region, with clashes in the streets between pro- and anti-independence supporters and hundreds of troops being sent to Barcelona in support of national police. Amid a standoff that has seen Catalonia’s leader publicly trade criticisms with Spain’s prime minister and even the king, the captain of the famous Barcelona FC football team, Andres Iniesta, entered the fray with an appeal for dialogue Thursday. “Do it for all of us. We deserve to live in peace,” he wrote on Facebook.