Span­ish pros­e­cu­tors go af­ter Cat­alo­nia’s axed lead­ers

The Herald (South Africa) - - WORLD -

SPAN­ISH pros­e­cu­tors yes­ter­day de­manded that Cat­alo­nia’s dis­missed lead­ers be charged with re­bel­lion af­ter the re­gional par­lia­ment de­clared in­de­pen­dence last week and the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Madrid moved to take con­trol of the re­gion.

Up­ping the ante in the EU coun­try’s big­gest cri­sis in decades, Spain’s chief pros­e­cu­tor said he was seek­ing charges, in­clud­ing re­bel­lion and sedi­tion, against the Cata­lan lead­ers, sacked by Madrid on Fri­day.

Jose Manuel Maza said the of­fi­cials caused an in­sti­tu­tional cri­sis that led to the uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence (by the Cata­lan par­lia­ment) car­ried out on Oc­to­ber 27 “with to­tal contempt for our con­sti­tu­tion”.

Mean­while, there was so far no sign of Cat­alo­nia’s dis­missed re­gional pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont. A Span­ish gov­ern­ment source said the 54year-old was in Brus­sels.

Re­bel­lion is pun­ish­able by up to 30 years in prison. A court now has to de­cide whether to ac­cept the case against the lead­ers.

On Sun­day, Bel­gium’s im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter sug­gested Puigde­mont could re­ceive asy­lum in Bel­gium on the grounds that he might not get a fair trial in Spain.

Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel later in­sisted that was not on the agenda.

Mean­while, a spokes­woman of Puigde­mont’s PDeCAT party said yes­ter­day it would run in a De­cem­ber re­gional elec­tion called by Spain’s gov­ern­ment in re­sponse to the dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence.

“We will go to the polls on [De­cem­ber] 21. We will go with con­vic­tion and with a com­mit­ment to let­ting the Cata­lan peo­ple ex­press them­selves,” Marta Pas­cal said.

The Repub­li­can Left of Cat­alo­nia (ERC) party of Puigde­mont’s equally de­posed vice-pres­i­dent Oriol Jun­queras said it would par­tic­i­pate in some fash­ion in the elec­tion de­spite judg­ing the poll il­le­git­i­mate, hav­ing been called by Madrid.

“Our repub­lic does not for the mo­ment fully have the ca­pac­ity to im­pose it­self as we would wish -- but it is up to us to de­fend it,” a vis­i­bly emo­tional Sabria said.

On Fri­day, Spain’s Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy said he had dis­solved the Cata­lan par­lia­ment and called a snap vote for the re­gion un­der sweep­ing pow­ers ap­proved by the se­nate to stop the se­ces­sion­ist move­ment.


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