Catalan leaders plan legal challenge to Spain’s takeover

Catalonia’s political leaders intend to bring a legal challenge to prevent the Spanish government from removing them from office and taking over running the region to stop its push for independence, a spokesman has said.

Appeals will be lodged in Spain’s Constitutional Court and Supreme Court against prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s decision to sack Catalonia’s government and curtail the regional parliament’s powers, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said.

If the regional government is not successful in Spanish courts, it will pursue the case in international courts, Mr Turull said.

Spain’s Senate is expected to approve Mr Rajoy’s plans on Friday, triggering previously untapped constitutional powers to act against Catalan leaders accused of violating the law and court orders by holding a secession referendum and preparing to declare independence.

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“We are going to respond in a very solid way,” Mr Turull said at the end of the regional government’s weekly cabinet meeting. “We will exhaust all internal ways in order to turn to the international justice if needed.”

Speculation has increased in recent days that Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont may call an early regional election to avoid the central government’s intervention.

More details about the effect the political crisis is having on Catalonia emerged when Caixabank, Spain’s third-largest bank, reported it suffered a “moderate” but temporary run on deposits due to the crisis over the independence bid.

The bank until recently was based in Catalonia, but transferred its headquarters to the Valencia region on October 6.

Presenting the company’s earnings for the first time in Valencia, chief executive Gonzalo Gortazar declined to give details on the value of the withdrawn deposits, but said the losses had “been reversed” and the bank continued to grow.

He said the headquarters relocation was definitive. Local media reports quoted him as saying the bank does not plan to move any jobs out of Catalonia.

Caixabank, a second bank, Sabadell, and more than 1,000 other companies have moved their official bases out of Catalonia to ensure they can continue operating under European Union laws if Catalonia breaks away from Spain.

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