MADRID – The Latest on the Catalan government's bid to hold an independence referendum (all times local):
Spain's top prosecutor says criminal suits are being lodged to prosecute Catalan officials responsible for scheduling a vote on independence that authorities see as breaching the country's top laws.
Chief state prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza says two different lawsuits are in the works, one that seeks to punish members of Catalonia's parliament who allowed the debate and vote on the legal framework of the planned Oct. 1 referendum, and a separate one against the executive branch of the regional government, whose members officially called the referendum.
He said the officials could be charged, among other things, with disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement.
The state prosecutor's office has also instructed officials and police forces in Catalonia — the northeastern region whose capital is Barcelona — to investigate and stop any actions taken toward the celebration of the referendum.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office says members of his cabinet are meeting Thursday to react to plans by Catalan leaders who have scheduled a vote on the region's secession from Spain.
Rajoy is also discussing the crisis separately with leaders of the two main opposition parties, his office announced, in an effort to project political unity against the separatists' defiance.
The government is seeking to stop the Oct. 1 vote by appealing to the country's constitutional court, which has previously ruled that a referendum can only be called with the approval of central authorities. Other possible measures have not been disclosed.
Judges in Spain's top court are also considering a request by Rajoy to punish members of the regional Catalan parliament who on Wednesday allowed the passing of a legal framework for the referendum.