Catalan leader says will proceed with October 1 independence referendum

Catalan bishops call for calm as Spain cracks down on independence vote

The government of Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain, has called a referendum on independence for October 1, triggering a constitutional crisis in the country.

Students occupied the University of Barcelona on Friday, September 22, in another grand display of support for the referendum on Catalan independence planned for the start of next month.

The Mossos, who are normally controlled by the Catalan government, have been accused by Madrid of not sufficiently cracking down on preparations for the independence vote, which Spain's Constitutional Court has ruled illegal.

"They will be tasked with surveillance of public space and maintaining order and they will act in case the illegal referendum is maintained", the interior ministry said in a statement.

Bigio warned that the incarceration by the central government of regional officials and protesters in Catalonia will inflame the tensions and make the independence seekers sure to go ahead with the secession plan. The national interior ministry's press office didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

Catalan bishops call for calm as Spain cracks down on independence vote
Spain sends more police to Catalonia to block referendum

Efforts by prosecutors to crack down on activists in Barcelona and other cities who are preparing to stage the ballot on October 1 are being hampered by foot-dragging within Mossos d'Esquadra, as the northeastern region's police department is known, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The growing police presence and aggressive crackdowns are fueling mounting protests among the Catalan population, with thousands taking to the streets of Barcelona, and dock workers refusing to provide services to the police staying on the ferries.

The arrest of Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs and number two to the region's vice president Oriol Junqueras, took place on Wednesday morning as agents of Spain's Civil Guard searched the premises of the regional department of economy, a spokeswoman with the institution said. A statement said the six declined to testify. Student union representatives urged the protesters to remain over the weekend. The Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.

Hundreds of pro-independence supporters had protested outside the courthouse to demand the officials' release. The region has about 5.5 million eligible voters.

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