Catalonia’s top judicial official has ordered additional Spanish police protection for the headquarters of the regional judiciary ahead of the regional government’s possible declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday.
The regional Mossos d’Esquadra police force, whose hierarchy reports to the Catalan government, had been in charge until now of guarding the palace in central Barcelona that hosts the judiciary.
But the High Judiciary in Catalonia says its president, Jesus Barrientos, has asked the chief of the National Police force in the region to join in the protection of the building. The statement says a declaration of independence, even if illegal under Spanish laws, could trigger the suspension of the judiciary and ouster of its president.
Separatist leaders in Catalonia have declared valid a pro-independence victory in a disputed Oct. 1 referendum that Spain calls illegal.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed in an interview with a German newspaper that Spain will not be divided.
Rajoy told Die Welt in its Monday edition that “Spain will not be divided and the national unity will be preserved. We will do everything that legislation allows us to ensure this.”
Rajoy added “we will prevent this independence from taking place.”
The prime minister’s interview comes a week after separatist leaders of the Catalan government held a referendum on secession that Spain’s top court had suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal.
Secession-minded lawmakers are meeting Tuesday in Catalonia and some say that is when they will declare independence for the northeastern region in Spain.
Spain’s deputy prime minister says the Spanish government will be ready to act if Catalan separatist leaders go ahead and declare independence on Tuesday as they have promised.
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told the COPE radio station Monday that “if they declare independence, there will be decisions to restore the law and democracy.”
Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont is to address the Catalan parliament on Tuesday evening to debate the political situation. Separatist politicians have said there will be a declaration of independence during that session, although some ruling coalition lawmakers say the move would be “symbolic.”
Saenz de Santamaria also called for members of the Catalan government “who still respect democracy and freedom to refrain from jumping into the void.”