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Spain

Jose Manuel Maza, Spanish prosecutor leading case against Catalans, dies

Spain's top prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza has died unexpectedly at the age of 66 while in Argentina for a conference. Maza had been leading the probe against members of Catalonia's ousted regional government.

Spanish Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza died unexpectedly on Saturday after being admitted to a Buenos Aires hospital for an unspecified illness.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy confirmed the top prosecutor's passing on Twitter, while expressing his "deepest condolences" to Maza's family and friends.

Maza had been in the position for just under a year, and had most recently led the Spanish state's investigation into 14 members from Catalonia's ousted regional government for alleged rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds.

The probe was launched following the Catalan government's decision to hold an independence referendum that the Spanish courts viewed as unlawful. After the Catalan regional government's decision to announce the region's secession from Spain, the Spanish government in Madrid moved to dismiss Catalonia's parliamentary cabinet and seize control of the assembly.

Read more: Carles Puigdemont faces extradition court in Belgium

As of Saturday, there was no clear candidate in place to take over the office left vacant following Maza's passing.

The Spanish government must choose its preferred candidate after hearing from the General Council of the Judiciary. That candidate must then be approved twice over before he or she can formally be appointed; first by a Congress commission and then by the king.

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dm/jm (AP, AFP)

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