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Former Catalan leader given two-year public office ban

Javier Soriano, AFP | CDC deputy Francesc Homs (L) and former president of the Catalan Government Artur Mas (R) arrive at the Supreme court in Madrid on February 28, 2017

The former head of Spain’s Catalonia region was barred from public office for two years on Monday for staging an informal referendum on independence, after a trial that has stoked tensions between separatist leaders and the central government.

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Artur mas - who was regional governor in 2014 when pro-independence campaigners held a symbolic referendum in breach of a legal order - was found guilty of contempt of court, Catalonia’s superior court of justice said in a ruling.

The case comes as separatist political parties in Catalonia, a wealthy region with its own language and distinct culture, are pushing to hold another vote on breaking away from Spain in September.

Spain's centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has repeatedly ruled out such a scenario, however, saying any regional vote on secession would be illegal. Spain’s constitutional court has blocked such moves in the past.

(REUTERS)

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