Pro-independence Catalans defy King Felipe VI’s warning

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Media captionCarles Puigdemont spoke to the BBC on Tuesday evening

Pro-independence Catalan leaders are pressing ahead despite an emphatic warning from King Felipe VI.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont told the BBC he would declare independence “at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.

The European Union said it was “time to talk” to find a solution to the crisis in Catalonia.

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said the Spanish constitution must be followed.

Mr Timmermans, addressing the European Parliament, described the images of violence from Catalonia as “saddening”, but emphasised the importance of upholding the rule of law.

In his intervention, late on Tuesday, King Felipe branded Sunday’s referendum in the north-eastern Spanish region illegal and undemocratic.

But correspondents say his failure to acknowledge the violent repression of the vote has fired up rather than deterred independence supporters.

Meanwhile, Spain’s high court has summoned the head of Catalonia’s regional police force to testify as a suspect in a investigation of alleged sedition – inciting rebellion against the state.

Josep Lluís Trapero and three other people are expected to appear in court on Friday in a move likely to inflame sentiment further amid Spain’s deepest political crisis in decades, say correspondents.

More on the Catalan crisis

What are the pro-independence Catalans doing?

Following the BBC interview in which he said there would be a declaration of independence in the coming days, Carles Puigdemont said he would make a statement at 21:00 (19:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

Groups in the Catalan parliament have agreed that parliament should meet in full assembly on Monday. Mr Puigdemont could also use that occasion to make a unilateral declaration of independence.

When asked what he would do if the Spanish government were to intervene and take control of Catalonia’s government, Mr Puigdemont said it would be “an error which changes everything”.

Under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, the government in Madrid is permitted to impose direct rule on autonomous regions.

Is there any dialogue going on at all?

Mr Puigdemont says not, and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has kept silent since the scenes of police violence which accompanied Sunday’s vote.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Tom Burridge on how the crisis in Spain is likely to unfold

The Spanish government has vowed to resist any declaration of independence, with Mr Rajoy previously saying the vote made a “mockery” of democracy.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau has called on both sides to talk. “Neither a unilateral declaration of independence nor article 155. More than ever we need dialogue and bridges,” she tweeted.

The European parliament was due to debate the crisis on Wednesday afternoon, but any resolution passed will be non-binding.

Why is the king’s intervention significant?

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Media captionKing Felipe VI: “Catalan society is fractured”

In his televised address, King Felipe said the Catalan leaders who organised the referendum showed their “disrespect to the powers of the state”.

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