Spain: Former members of Catalan cabinet sent to prison

8 former pro-independence ministers have been remanded in custody; A ninth was granted bail


A Madrid judge has ordered that eight former Catalan ministers be remanded in custody on Thursday over last week’s vote for independence in the Catalan parliament.

One of the ex-ministers was granted bail.

Of the 14 former members of the cabinet facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds, nine showed up to Thursday’s hearing.

Ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four other members of his cabinet did not show up in court and are believed to be in Belgium.

The prosecutor also requested that a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont, as well for the other four missing, be issued.

The other former minister, who resigned before last week’s vote for an independent Catalan Republic, was granted bail, but his lawyer told the media that he will spend Thursday night in jail.

In her ruling, the judge justified the decision to remand the politicians, including the former Catalan vice-president, in custody saying there was a high risk of them fleeing the country and destroying or altering evidence.

The charges they face are heavy — rebellion carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and sedition, 15 years.

The judge’s decision to jail the leaders has caused anger among Catalan separatists. The region’s major pro-separatist groups, the leaders of which are also in pretrial detention in Madrid, have called for a protest in front of the Catalan parliament Thursday evening.

“Regardless of opinion on Catalonia, the jailing of leaders is wrong and has been condemned by all democrats,” tweeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

However, international and European support for the political crisis remains overwhelmingly on the side of Spain. Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister spoke to his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy to stress Ankara’s support for Spanish unity.

Six other members of Catalonia’s former parliament including the speaker of the House were also summoned to Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday to face the same charges, but the hearing was adjourned until next Thursday. They have been placed under police surveillance.

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