Prosecutors ask for jail for Catalans ministers

by Abel Hampton November 3, 2017, 0:19
Prosecutors ask for jail for Catalans ministers

Forcadell is one of 20 former Catalan lawmakers that have been summoned by two courts following the regional parliament's declaration of independence October 27.

A High Court source said the arrest warrant for Puigdemont, who is in Belgium, would "most likely" be issued on Friday.

"This is a political trial", said Mr Puigdemont, who is now in Belgium.

The deposed leader was photographed in a cafe in Brussels on Thursday while other Catalan government members appeared in court.

In a speech broadcast late on Thursday by Catalan public TV3, Mr Puigdemont called on Catalans to protest against the Spanish authorities "without violence, peacefully and with respect for everybody's opinions".

The eight include former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras.

But if those Catalan politicians appearing in court are denied bail it will cause further anger among those who want Catalonia to break away, our correspondent adds.

She said the defendants, who could face jail sentences of up to 50 years, must be held in custody because they were a flight risk and could destroy evidence.

Puigdemont and four others fled to Belguim after the three day ultimatum to pay a deposit of €6.2m ($7.2m) to cover potential liabilities which was stated in the court summons, expired.

Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court which has yet to hold a hearing.

The judiciary and the Spanish government have insisted that the legal action taken against the leaders of the independence movement is technically sound and that the country's separation of powers is robust.

The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to give one more week to Forcadell and the Catalan lawmakers to prepare their defence and a new hearing will take place on November 9.

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