Cata­lan leader flees to Brus­sels over charges

Dis­missed by Madrid, the ousted Cata­lan leader fled to Brus­sels af­ter the Span­ish state pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice an­nounced charges of re­bel­lion, sedi­tion and mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds against him and his cabi­net

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

DE­POSED Cata­lan Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont fled to Brus­sels, Bel­gium, fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of re­bel­lion charges by Spain’s Chief Pros­e­cu­tor Jose Manuel Maza yes­ter­day as the in­de­pen­dence cri­sis con­tin­ues to deepen.

THE OUSTED Cata­lan leader Car­les Puigde­mont trav­eled to Brus­sels yes­ter­day af­ter Spain’s state pros­e­cu­tor said that he would seek charges of re­bel­lion, sedi­tion and em­bez­zle­ment against mem­bers of Cat­alo­nia’s ousted sep­a­ratist gov­ern­ment, push­ing the cri­sis over the re­gion’s in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion into an un­cer­tain new phase.

Work re­sumed nor­mally in Cat­alo­nia and calm reigned on the streets de­spite calls for civil dis­obe­di­ence from se­ces­sion­ist politi­cians, in early signs the di­rect rule im­posed to stop the re­gion’s in­de­pen­dence bid from Spain was tak­ing hold. Speak­ing to Daily Sabah on con­di­tion of anonymity, some pub­lic work­ers said they do not want to risk los­ing their jobs as Madrid takes con­trol in the au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Although some pub­lic sec­tor work­ers have yet to tell their new bosses whether they will ac­cept the or­ders, the lack of un­rest came as a re­lief for fi­nan­cial mar­kets, which rose.

Chief Pros­e­cu­tor Jose Manuel Maza said he would ask judges for pre­ven­tive mea­sures against the politi­cians and the gov­ern­ing body of Cata­lan par­lia­ment that al­lowed a vote to de­clare in­de­pen­dence last week. Although he did not spec­ify if those would in­clude their im­me­di­ate ar­rest and de­ten­tion be­fore trial, Span­ish me­dia re­ported that pros­e­cu­tors could ask the court for an ar­rest of Cata­lan lead­ers soon.

The re­bel­lion, sedi­tion and em­bez­zle­ment charges carry max­i­mum sen­tences of 30, 15 and six years, re­spec­tively. It was not im­me­di­ately clear when judges would rule on the pros­e­cu­tors’ re­quest. Maza did not name any of those fac­ing charges, but they in­clude ousted Cata­lan Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont, Vice Pres­i­dent Oriol Jun­queras and Cata­lan par­lia­men­tary speaker Carme For­cadell.

The an­nounce­ment came as Cat­alo­nia’s civil ser­vants re­turned to work for the first time since Madrid dis­missed the sep­a­ratist re­gional gov­ern­ment and im­posed di­rect con­trol.

Ru­mors raged about the where­abouts of Puigde­mont, as Cata­lans watched and won­dered whether the ousted lead­ers would defy their fir­ing and face even more pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges. In ad­di­tion to the sedi­tion charges, Spain’s gov­ern­ment has said the fired lead­ers could be charged with usurp­ing oth­ers’ func­tions if they at­tempt to carry on work­ing.

As staff ar­rived at the head­quar­ters of the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment in Barcelona, Puigde­mont posted a photo on In­sta­gram of a court­yard at the build­ing. Both the Cata­lan and Span­ish na­tional flags waved from the top of the build­ing. The am­bigu­ous In­sta­gram post, ac­com­pa­nied by the words “Good morn­ing” in Cata­lan and a smi­ley emoti­con, left many guess­ing whether Puigde­mont was in the build­ing. There was no in­di­ca­tion of when the photo was taken.

As dozens of jour­nal­ists, cu­ri­ous on­look­ers and be­mused tourists gath­ered in the square out­side the Gothic gov­ern­ment palace in cen­tral Barcelona, res­i­dents ex­pressed con­fu­sion about who is ac­tu­ally in charge of Cat­alo­nia.

De­posed Cata­lan leader Puigde­mont speaks dur­ing a con­fi­dence vote ses­sion at Cata­lan par­lia­ment, Barcelona.

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