Europe

Former Catalan leader stands trial for vote on independence

  • Former President of the Catalan regional Government Artur Mas, center, waves to the crowd as he arrives next to former Education Minister Irene Rigaua, left, and former Vice President Joana Ortega at the Catalonia's high court in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Thousands took the streets of Barcelona Monday to accompany the three Catalan politicians as they walked to a high court where they face charges for disobeying a Constitutional order two years ago banning a vote on the region's independence. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Former President of the Catalan regional Government Artur Mas, center, waves to the crowd as he arrives next to former Education Minister Irene Rigaua, left, and former Vice President Joana Ortega at the Catalonia's high court in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Thousands took the streets of Barcelona Monday to accompany the three Catalan politicians as they walked to a high court where they face charges for disobeying a Constitutional order two years ago banning a vote on the region's independence. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former Catalan President Artur Mas, center, is flanked by former regional councilors Irene Rigau, left, and Joana Ortega, right, as they sit on the bench inside the high court where they face charges for disobeying a Constitutional order in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Mas faces a 10-year ban from holding public office for allowing the vote in which 80 percent of the 2.3 million who cast a ballot said they would support an independent state for Catalonia. (AP Photo/Alberto Estevez, pool)

    Former Catalan President Artur Mas, center, is flanked by former regional councilors Irene Rigau, left, and Joana Ortega, right, as they sit on the bench inside the high court where they face charges for disobeying a Constitutional order in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Mas faces a 10-year ban from holding public office for allowing the vote in which 80 percent of the 2.3 million who cast a ballot said they would support an independent state for Catalonia. (AP Photo/Alberto Estevez, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former Catalan regional Government President Artur Mas, center, acknowledges the crowd as he arrives with former Education Minister Irene Rigaua, left, and former Vice President Joana Ortega at the Catalonia's high court in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Thousands have taken to the streets of Barcelona Monday to accompany the three Catalan politicians as they walked to a court where they face charges for disobeying a constitutional order two years ago banning a vote on the region's independence. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Former Catalan regional Government President Artur Mas, center, acknowledges the crowd as he arrives with former Education Minister Irene Rigaua, left, and former Vice President Joana Ortega at the Catalonia's high court in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Thousands have taken to the streets of Barcelona Monday to accompany the three Catalan politicians as they walked to a court where they face charges for disobeying a constitutional order two years ago banning a vote on the region's independence. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)  (The Associated Press)

Thousands have taken to the streets of Barcelona Monday to accompany three Catalan politicians, including a former regional president, as they walked to a court where they face charges for disobeying a constitutional order two years ago banning a vote on the region's independence.

Former Catalan leader Artur Mas faces a 10-year ban from holding public office for allowing the November 2014 vote in which 80 percent of the 2.3 million who cast a ballot said they would support an independent state for Catalonia. The mock referendum had been deemed illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court five days earlier.

The three defendants arrived for Monday's hearing at Catalonia's High Court accompanied by current leaders and other elected officials, as thousands of sympathizers carrying independence flags cheered. A big banner read "Love Democracy" in English.