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Ex-Catalonia leader Puigdemont appeals for help to repay €4mn spent on banned referendum

Ex-Catalonia leader Puigdemont appeals for help to repay €4mn spent on banned referendum

The former leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, asked supporters on Tuesday to donate money after Spanish authorities ordered him and 19 others to pay back €4.1 million of public money spent on a banned independence referendum.

On October 1, 2017, the northeastern region organized a secession vote, which was declared illegal by Spanish courts. Its leaders then made a short-lived declaration of independence. Puigdemont later fled to Belgium, while other leaders were jailed. “If you voted on October 1, we need you,” Puigdemont tweeted, adding a link to a bank account.

Puigdemont, who is now a member of the European Parliament, said Spain’s top public auditors’ office had given him and other politicians 15 days to refund the money before their assets could be seized, Reuters reports. The auditors’ office has not immediately confirmed the information.

Earlier on Tuesday, six jailed pro-independence leaders were briefly released from prison under heavy police protection to testify in the Catalan parliament. Spain’s PM Pedro Sanchez is due in Barcelona on February 6 to set the agenda for the talks with the regional government.