People hold on to Catalan separatist flags on top of an air vent during a demonstration two days after the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo
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Prominent pro-independence Catalans are due to appear before a Spanish judge over allegations of sedition Friday, a move that may further escalate tensions between the regional and national governments.Violence erupted last weekend during Catalonia's independence referendum outlawed by Madrid, and Catalan leaders have threatened to declare independence within days.The National Court in Madrid has summoned Catalonia's police chief Josep Luis Trapero and three other suspects placed under investigation for alleged sedition to a hearing on Friday. The social and economic stakes of Spain's deepest political crisis in a generation mounted Thursday as banks planned to shift their domiciles from the region and rival footballers weighed in.If Catalonia declares independence, Spain could respond by suspending the region's existing autonomous status and imposing direct rule from Madrid.Spain's Finance Minister Luis de Guindos played down the economic threat, insisting Spain would block independence.Ramos also said "hats off" to Spain's King Felipe, who angered Catalan leaders by calling them to drop their independence drive.
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