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.