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Mayors co-operating with Catalonia independence poll appear before prosecutors

Catalan mayors under investigation meet at the Generalitat Palace, to protest against the ruling by the constitutional court ahead of a planned independence referendum in the Catalonia region, in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Last week, Spain's constitutional court decided to suspend an independence referendum that Catalan leaders had penciled in for Oct. 1 while judges decide if it is unconstitutional, as the central government in Madrid has argued. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The first of more than 700 mayors under investigation for supporting a planned independence referendum for Spain's north eastern region of Catalonia have appeared before prosecutors, but refused to give evidence.

The mayors of the small towns of Oliana, Pont de Suert and Mollerussa were greeted by supporters who shouted "we will vote" after their appearances on Tuesday.

Spain's Constitutional Court has ordered the October 1 referendum suspended and the central government is waging myriad legal battles to halt it, claiming it is illegal.

Spanish police on Tuesday continued raids to seize documents related to the referendum.

Catalonia, which represents a fifth of Spain's 1.1-trillion-euro economy, has some 900 mayors.

The mayor of the capital, Barcelona, is not under investigation.

The region's 7.5 million inhabitants are nearly evenly divided over independence.

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