April 24, 2018

Catalan separatists face charges as key figure flees overseas

25 March 2018, 12:31 | Rudolph Thomas

Catalan Parliament races to debate potential president before his possible arrest

Spain rejects plan to install nationalist Catalan leader

Following the ruling, protesters clashed with police in the centre of Barcelona late on Friday.

The decision was met with calls for demonstrations on the streets of Catalonia.

Later Friday, the Spanish Supreme Court was due to decide whether a separatist candidate for the presidency of the Catalan parliament, Jordi Turull, should also be placed in pre-trial detention.

Other separatist figures are already in custody or have gone into exile overseas.

Friday night's rallies had been organised by a separatist group before the court decisions were announced.

The Mossos were seen attempting to keep the protesters separated from the Delegation of the Spanish Government in downtown Barcelona.

Judge Pablo Llarena's indictment wrapped up the investigation into the events that six months ago plunged Spain into its deepest political crisis in decades.

Protestors tried to break through police lines.

The court has not yet ruled on whether they will be jailed in advance of a trial, although one of the five, Marta Rovira, said on Friday she had fled Spain and gone into exile.

As well as the 13 people facing rebellion and sedition charges, another 12 will be tried for alleged embezzlement or for disobeying the state, for their role in holding the independence referendum. All deny the allegations.

All five spent some time in detention following the banned referendum but were released on bail late a year ago pending investigations into their individual roles in the independence drive.

The other politicians who entered preventive detention included ex-parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell and three former members of the regional government. He did not set a date for their trial.

Llarena's prison orders bring the total number of jailed separatist Catalan leaders to nine. They include Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan vice-president, and Jordi Sánchez, who was nominated to lead the Catalan government but dropped the bid after the Spanish authorities refused to release him to attend an investiture ceremony.

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

"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". She said: "I start a hard road, that of exile", and is believed to be in Switzerland where Anna Gabriel is now living.

Puigdemont voiced his support for Rovira and the other Catalans charged, on a Twitter message which said they were being indicted by people "who don't understand democracy".

Speaker Roger Torrent declared while speaking to the chamber a vote on the candidacy of Jordi Turull to not be carried out.

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