Spanish Supreme Court judge order sending Catalan separatists into jail

by Abel Hampton March 25, 2018, 1:37
Spanish Supreme Court judge order sending Catalan separatists into jail

A Spanish Supreme Court judge on Friday charged 13 Catalan separatist politicians, including fugitive former regional president Carles Puigdemont, with rebellion for their attempt to declare independence from Spain.

Spain's government has rejected a plan by separatists in Catalonia's regional parliament to elect prominent secessionist politician Jordi Turull as Catalan president.

Mr Turull is among former officials facing possible rebellion charges over the regional parliament's failed attempt a year ago to break away from Spain.

Judge Pablo Llarena accused Puigdemont - now in self-imposed exile in Belgium - of organising the independence referendum in October previous year despite a ban from Madrid and "grave risk of violent incidents".

In his 70-page ruling, Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena said that they should be returned to jail as they represented a flight risk.

He was due to appear in court Friday along with several other leading separatists.

More than 20 people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and police in the Catalonia region of Spain during protests, news agencies reported.

The five people sent to prison are Jordi Turull, who will not face the second vote selecting the new leader of the Catalan region on Saturday, along with former Catalan speaker Carme Forcadell, and former government officials Ral Romeva, Josep Rull and Dolors Bassa.

Demonstrations also took place in other parts of Catalonia.

Judge Llarena also issued an arrest warrant for Marta Rovira, the deputy head of the separatist Esquerra Republicana party, who failed to appear in court on Friday.

The five join four other Catalan leaders already detained in prison.

The court's decision will likely put an end to a planned vote this Saturday at the Catalan regional parliament to pick a new leader after Mr Puigdemont's departure past year. An anti-establishment party's former lawmaker, Anna Gabriel, fled to Switzerland earlier this year.

"Today I undertake a hard road, a path that, unfortunately, so many others that preceded us have had to take", Rovira wrote, adding: "The path of exile".

In an hour-long speech to fellow MPs outlining the policies he would pursue if elected, Mr Turull did not mention the words "independence" or "republic".

Puigdemont and Jordi Sanchez, a leader of a prominent grassroots group who is in jail over his role in the illegal campaign to split from Spain, have both withdrawn their bids for the presidency because they could not attend a swearing-in session.

However, pro-Union Catalans mostly boycotted the ballot, and turnout was less than 50 per cent.

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