Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Catalan parliament speaker released from Spanish jail

The Catalan parliament's speaker and five lawmakers will appear before Spain's Supreme Court in Madrid on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion and sedition for their roles in staging a banned referendum on Catalonia's independence last month.

As conditions of Forcadell's release, the judge withdrew her passport and ordered her to stay in Spain, to check in at a court in Catalonia each week and to return before the Supreme Court if summoned.

"We're going back home", she tweeted later.

Four other lawmakers would also be released on 25,000-euro bail, while a fifth would be freed on certain conditions without bail, the source said.

Eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots groups are already in custody, awaiting trial on sedition charges for their parts in the October 1 vote, ruled illegal by Spanish courts.

In his ruling, Llarena wrote that all "have expressed that either they renounce future political activity or, those who want to remain active, will do it renouncing any actions outside the constitutional framework".

The crimes under investigation of Catalan lawmakers are punishable under Spanish law with up to 30 years in prison.

Forcadell earlier told the Supreme Court that the declaration was not legally binding, according to court sources, in a comment that could undermine the secessionist push.

The Supreme Court on Thursday took a softer tone than the High Court did in its own ruling that jailed the former government members.

The standoff between Madrid and supporters of Catalan independence, triggered by a banned October 1 referendum splitting with Spain, has stirred separatist feelings far beyond Spanish borders.

The High Court last week issued an arrest warrant on rebellion charges for Mr. Puigdemont, the former regional government president, and four former members of his cabinet who are with him in Brussels.

Two leaders of Catalan independence associations have also been unconditionally remanded in custody. One of the two groups, the National Catalan Assembly that was formerly headed by Forcadell, said Friday it had paid her bail.

The Spanish government responded by seizing control of the wealthy northeastern region, the first time in the four decades since Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship ended that Madrid removed powers from any of the country's 17 regions.

After the declaration, Madrid dismissed Catalonia's government, dissolved parliament, suspended the region's autonomy and called new elections for the region next month.

Like this: