PROSECUTORS in Barcelona are charging 28 people accused over the 2017 independence referendum with criminal organisation, on top of embezzlement, disobedience, falsification of documents and disclosing secrets.

Among the accused are heads of Catalonia’s state broadcaster – TV3 director Vincent Sanchis, director of Catalunya Radio Saul Gordillo and Nuria Llorach, president of the Catalan Broadcasting Corporation (CCMA).

Others who occupied senior positions in the government of exiled president Carles Puigdemont also face charges of criminal organisation.

All are alleged to have jointly acted to circumvent Constitutional Court resolutions suspending parliamentary laws and banning the indyref.

“This complex body with an organisation chart and previous planning, usually equipped with means suitable for the proposed criminal purposes, makes it more difficult for the state to fight against such perfectly structured networks, which in turn perform, logically, operations of greater scope,” said prosecutors.

“There was a common plan and each one of the people who will be called, within their respective competencies or fields of action, contributed decisively to the attainment of the aforementioned joint end.”

Bail was set at €5.8 million (£5m) for those charged with embezzlement, but the court refused to accept €3.7m (£3.2m) from a solidarity fund to cover part of the guarantee. Lawyers for the fund were meeting last night to discuss their next move.

Catalan President Quim Torra, meanwhile, has appeared in court charged with disobeying a Central Electoral Board (JEC) order to remove yellow ribbons from his government’s headquarters.

The ribbons have become symbols of support for Catalan political prisoners, who are on trial in Madrid over the referendum, but Torra said he considered the order illegal because the JEC was not the competent body.

“The agreement of the JEC in which the Prosecutor’s Office is based is a nil full agreement because it was dictated by an organ that is not competent to dictate that resolution, which makes it null and void,” said Torra, adding that no criminal charge could be levied through it.

“I am surprised that the Office of the Prosecutor, responsible for ensuring compliance with legality, did not realise the manifest illegality of this resolution.

“It is quite clear that the Electoral Board acts with a clear bias and with a clear political intentionality when it comes to the pro-independence parties.

“In defence of civil rights and democratic freedoms like freedom of expression, they will find me in the first line until the last consequences.” Torra added: “The president of the [Catalan Government] Generalitat cannot fail in the conquest of rights and freedoms and if Spanish democracy does not hold this defence I will pay the price.”

He accused the Spanish Government of using its power as devices for “a repressive strategy”, which he said, “also damages the image of Spain in the world”.

Elsewhere, Puigdemont’s political group Together for Catalonia (JxCat), has filed a lawsuit against two members of Spain’s electoral board for an alleged breach of official duty, accusing them of partiality and hostility against him.

Two of its members, Andres Betancor and Carlos Vidal, had been “previously contaminated by their ideological and political beliefs”, according to the writ.

Betancor had been proposed in Congress by the unionist party Ciutadans, while Vidal was proposed by the People’s Party, both of whom have challenged Puigdemont’s bid to run in the European poll.