Contested future for Catalonia's suspended independence vote

The future of a contentious referendum on Catalonia's independence is up in the air after Spain's constitutional court ordered a preliminary suspension but regional leaders vowed to go ahead, in defiance of Madrid.

Prosecutors are looking into possible charges of disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement against members of the Catalan government, based in Barcelona.

The country's top court has previously ruled that only the national government is allowed to call a referendum on secession and that all Spaniards must have a vote.

On Friday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's cabinet began procedures to also crush a bill approved overnight by Catalan pro-independence lawmakers. If the "yes" vote wins, and no matter the turnout, the new law is meant to become Catalonia's legal framework, or mini-constitution, as it transitions from a region in northeastern Spain to an independent republic.