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Spain targets polling stations as Catalan referendum nears

Spain targets polling stations as Catalan referendum nears

The visit comes as Catalonia's regional government attempts to hold a vote on independence from Spain, which could prove challenging for USA companies who are invested in Spain and have operations in Catalonia.

It is cracking down on organizers by threatening them with prosecution.

Madrid has been criticised for not negotiating with Catalan separatists and instead using the legal tools at its disposal to stop the vote on October 1.

They remain determined to hold the vote, saying the regional assembly in Barcelona will declare independence within 48 hours of a "yes" victory.

"Today we can affirm that there will be no effective referendum in Catalonia".

Spain's Court of Auditors gave Puigdemont's predecessor, former regional chief Artur Mas, and eight other Catalan officials 15 days to repay the 5.2 million euros ($6.2 million) in public funds it cost to hold a symbolic independence referendum in Catalonia in 2014 that was also banned by Madrid.

This has prompted the Catalan regional government to accuse central authorities of imposing an "undeclared state of emergency".

"We will continue working like we've done until now", said a statement posted on the Mossos official Twitter account.

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Anyone in possession of the keys or entrance codes to a polling booth could be considered a collaborator to crimes of disobedience, malfeasance and misappropriation of funds, the order said.

Spanish authorities have made arrests, seized ballot papers and sought generally to obstruct the October 1st referendum planned by the regional government in Catalonia, a wealthy province of Spain.

Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont could face action, says Spanish attorney general José Manuel Maza, as Catalonia prepares to defy Madrid by holding independence vote.

They are accused of allegedly "disseminating a website for people to participate in a referendum declared illegal by the Constitutional Court", a police spokesman said.

A "yes" vote is likely, given that most of the 40 percent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.

He said: "The Spanish President would say they are not going to have a vote but I think the people would be opposed to that".

It has sent out notifications to people planning to man polling booths spread across the region, the parliamentary spokeswoman for the separatist Junts pel Si party said on Tuesday.

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