MADRID, Spain - Facing allegations of sedition against the state, the Catalan chief of police, Josep Lluis Trapero, along with two other leading figures in the Catalan independence movement appeared in a Madrid court.
Amid an ongoing deadlock after the banned independence referendum in Spain's restive northeast region, Josep Lluís Trapero appeared in court in the Spanish capital on Friday.
Spanish authorities allege that Trapero's 17,000-strong force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, didn't do enough to prevent Sunday's vote, labelled ‘unconstitutional’ by Spain, from taking place.
After emerging from court, Trapero did not address reporters and no immediate action was taken against him.
However, authorities have indicated that the sedition investigation continues.
Speaking to reporters after his court appearance, Jordi Cuixart, head of separatist group Omnium Cultural said that he exercised his right not to answer the judges.
He added, “I don't recognize the authority of this court over this.”
He criticized the Spanish state for attempting to solve a political issue through the courts and said, "We are convinced that, sooner rather than later, the Spanish state will have to accept dialogue.”
Even Sánchez, president of the Catalan National Assembly, told reporters he had denied the sedition allegations in front of the judge.
He said, “We are convinced that we didn't commit any kind of crime. I only declared in my defense to make clear the legitimacy of a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration."
The sedition inquiry relates to violent protests on September 21 and 22 in the buildup to the October 1 referendum.
With the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont expected to declare independence, the Spanish Constitutional Court banned a session of the Catalan parliament planned for Monday in an apparent attempt to prevent him.
A parliament spokesman said that a new session to debate the "current political situation" would now be held on Tuesday.
Catalan foreign affairs chief Raül Romeva said in a statement, "Parliament will discuss, parliament will meet. Every attempt the Spanish government has used to impede things to happen, they have been demonstrated completely not only useless but counter-productive.”
Meanwhile, representatives of the main political parties in Catalonia were due to meet in Barcelona to discuss their next moves.
So far, the Spanish government has not made a statement on what course of action it might take if the Catalan government goes ahead with a declaration of independence.
However, speaking to Spanish news agency Efe on Thursday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, "I will do what's best for Spain and when I think it's the right time. I will listen to all the positions, but the final decision will be mine."
Earlier on Thursday, commenting on whether the parliamentary session planned for Monday would take place, Puigdemont said, "That is for Parliament to decide. But the Constitutional Court has no right to impede a democratic parliament session, which by law is inviolable."
Further, on Friday evening, Puigdemont is expected to meet with an "independent commission for mediation and dialogue.”
A declaration of independence is set to test the nerve for Rajoy's government, which is expected to seek to use emergency powers.
Further, reports quoted experts as saying that if Madrid decides that Catalonia is acting unconstitutionally, Rajoy could impose direct rule on Catalonia under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.
While this would be the last resort, the move would almost certainly require officers from the Guardia Civil, the national security force, to be deployed again on the streets of Catalonia.
Meanwhile, reports also pointed out that the referendum has exposed deep divisions in Catalonia - with some 90 percent of voters backing a split from Spain but turnout remaining only about 42 percent.
Over the weekend, separate groups are planning to hold rallies both for and against independence.
Faced with uncertainty, on Thursday, Banco Sabadell, one of Catalonia's largest banks, announced that it would move its registered headquarters outside the Catalonia region to the eastern city of Alicante.