Spain charges 13 Catalan politicians with rebellion

Spain charges 13 Catalan politicians with rebellion

Spain charges 13 Catalan politicians with rebellion

One of those taken into custody was Jordi Turull who was to be the subject of a vote in the Catalan parliament on Saturday for regional president.

Spain's Supreme Court said on Friday it would prosecute 13 key Catalan separatists for "rebellion", a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.

Thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Catalonia late on Friday after Spain's supreme court detained five separatist leaders for their role in last year's independence bid.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Madrid took over the wealthy northeastern region's government after a unilateral declaration of independence in October.

Spanish media reported that she had fled into exile in Switzerland. Parties have two months to propose and elect a presidential candidate.

The deputy leader of the leftwing separatist ERC party, whose chief is now in jail, is now in Switzerland, according to Spanish media.

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

In December, separatist lawmakers won 47.5 percent of the votes, but that was enough for them to keep their majority of parliamentary seats, under a system of proportional representation that favors their dominance in rural areas.

In a court ruling issued Friday at the end of a four-month investigation into the turbulent events that led to a failed declaration of independence, Llarena said that 25 Catalans will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience.

With numerous leaders overseas or in jail, the separatists have struggled to re-organise or even remain in politics. Four of them are in pre-trial detention.

Also charged with rebellion are Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, separatist activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart and ERC party leader Marta Rovira, who on Friday announced that she was fleeing Spain.

The central government is now running Catalonia from Madrid.

The court is investigating 28 Catalan pro-independence politicians and civic leaders on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

She issued a letter explaining why she had chosen "the path of exile", but Judge Llarena later added her name to his list of worldwide arrest warrants.

"Exile will be a hard road, but it is the only way I have to recover my political voice", Ms Rovira said in a letter.

Catalonia declared independence from Spain in October 2017 after a political back-and-forth between the regional and national governments. They will be held without bail pending their trials.

Turull, Puigdemont's former chief of staff and the third candidate to be proposed for the presidency since the elections last December, failed to win the support of the regional parliament after the far-left, anti-capitalist Popular Unity Candidacy (Cup) announced that it would no longer work in coalition with the two larger pro-independence parties.

The semiautonomous region has been without a leader for almost five months after central authorities in Madrid took control following October's independence declaration.

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