MADRID – A Spanish court has billed 11 former Catalan officials 5.1 million euros for holding an informal independence vote three years ago, but the region's leaders say the penalty won't stop them from holding a binding referendum on the issue.
Spain's Court of Auditors ruled Tuesday that the officials should repay as bail the public funds it cost to hold the 2014 vote that the country's Supreme Court had deemed unconstitutional.
Leaders in Catalonia called the bail a "desperate attempt" by Spanish authorities to stop the independence referendum scheduled for Oct 1.
Regional President Carles Puigdemont, said his cabinet would push forward with the binding referendum despite the Spanish government's fierce opposition.
Among the officials ordered to repay the 5.1 million euros ($6.1 million) is Puigdemont's predecessor, former regional chief Artur Mas.