11:31 GMT +315 December 2017
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    People wave pro independence flags next to ballot boxes during a protest organised by the National Assembly for Catalonia, to support the call for referendum in Barcelona, Spain

    Catalan Law Enforcement Agencies Ordered to Seize Referendum Ballot Boxes

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    Catalonia's law enforcement agencies have been ordered to seize the ballot boxes, ballot papers for the upcoming referendum as tensions over the planned event continue to mount.

    MADRID (Sputnik) — Catalonia’s chief prosecutor Jose Maria Romero de Tejada ordered Catalan law enforcement agencies to seize the ballot boxes, ballot papers and voter lists for Catalonia’s referendum on independence on October 1, the day of the vote.

    Catalonia’s police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, has received de Tejada’s order, according to which they also must identify the people responsible for organizing polling stations and inform them that these sites can not be used as for voting. According to the instructions, law enforcement officials must take statements from these persons as witnesses and request documentation associated with the vote.

    Last week, Spain’s Civil Guard carried out a large-scale raid in Catalonia, detaining over a dozen people and searching numerous public agencies, including the local government, Catalonia's Generalitat, in relation to the upcoming independence vote. These actions by Madrid incited mass protests across the autonomous region, which deepened the rift between the central government and the proponents of the independence vote.

    Catalonia’s Parliament on September 6 passed a bill enabling the independence referendum to be held on October 1. Madrid called the bill illegal and challenged it in the Constitutional Court. The next day, the Constitutional Court accepted the lawsuit for review, which means the suspension of the legislation.

    Public polls show that 41 percent of Catalonia's residents support the independence of the region, while 49 percent oppose it. Around 80 percent of Catalans are convinced that the vote should be held, but the majority of them believe that the plebiscite can take place only after Madrid authorizes it.

    Related:

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    Catalan Independence Referendum Website Shut Down by Barcelona Court's Order
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