Thousands of people are rallying outside a Barcelona court in support of Catalan regional acting President Artur Mas, who has arrived for questioning over staging a symbolic referendum on secession from Spain last year.

Catalonia held the Nov. 9, 2014, referendum even thought it had been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court.

Mas is under investigation for grave disobedience, abuse of public funds, prevarication, usurping powers and obstructing justice. If tried and found guilty, he could face disqualification from office or up to one year in jail.

Some 400 pro-independence mayors joined Mas and his associates as he walked to the court building Thursday, cheered on by the crowd.

A pro-independence alliance headed by Mas won the most seats in a regional election last month but fell short of a majority.