Cata­lan MPS in court after al­low­ing vote on in­de­pen­dence

● Six in­ves­ti­gated on pos­si­ble charges of re­bel­lion and em­bez­zle­ment

The Scotsman - - World News - By ARITZ PARRA IN MADRID

Six Cata­lan MPS tes­ti­fied be­fore a Span­ish judge yes­ter­day over the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s claims that they ig­nored Con­sti­tu­tional Court orders by al­low­ing an in­de­pen­dence vote in the re­gional Par­lia­ment of Cat­alo­nia.

The Cata­lan par­lia­ment’s speaker, Carme For­cadell, was the first to be ques­tioned by Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena and two pros­e­cu­tors. She and five other mem­bers of the par­lia­ment’s gov­ern­ing body are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated on pos­si­ble charges of re­bel­lion, sedi­tion and em­bez­zle­ment.

Un­der Span­ish law, the crimes are pun­ish­able by up to 30 years of im­pris­on­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tors asked the judge to jail Ms For­cadell and three of the law­mak­ers without bail, to set bail of 50,000 eu­ros for an­other and to re­lease the sixth while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.

The 27 Oc­to­ber vote in the Cata­lan Par­lia­ment over declar­ing Cat­alo­nia’s in­de­pen­dence from Spain was boy­cotted by most op­po­si­tion MPS. It passed 70-10 in the 135seat leg­isla­tive body.

Spain’s cen­tral author­i­ties im­me­di­ately seized con­trol of the wealthy north­east­ern re­gion, the first time in the four decades since Gen­eral Fran­cisco Franco’s dic­ta­tor­ship ended that Madrid re­moved pow­ers from any of the coun­try’s 17 re­gions.

Spain dis­missed the re­gional gov­ern­ment, dis­solved the par­lia­ment and called a new re­gional elec­tion for 21 De­cem­ber.

Ms For­cadell, the par­lia­ment speaker, told pros­e­cu­tors that the in­de­pen­dence vote was merely “declar­a­tive and sym­bolic”.

Cat­alo­nia’s de­posed re­gional pres­i­dent, Car­les Puigde­mont, and four of his for­mer Cabi­net mem­bers fled to Brus­sels, where they are fight­ing Span­ish ar­rest and ex­tra­di­tion orders.

In a let­ter posted on so­cial me­dia yes­ter­day, the five called on vot­ers to sup­port pro-se­ces­sion par­ties in Cat­alo­nia’s forth­com­ing re­gional elec­tion

“It’s time to drive away from the (Cata­lan) in­sti­tu­tions those who want to own them with a coup d’etat,” Mr Puigde­mont tweeted, re­fer­ring to Spain’s de­ci­sion to as­sume con­trol of the re­gion.

Mr Puigde­mont, who is likely to run as the re­gional pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for his cen­ter-right PDECAT party, says he went to Bel­gium to rally Eurounited pean sup­port for the Cata­lan cause and that he is not try­ing to evade jus­tice.

Although no coun­try has pub­licly sided so far with the Cata­lan of­fi­cials re­moved from of­fice, their pres­ence in the Bel­gian cap­i­tal has sown di­vi­sions with fel­low politi­cians. In yes­ter­day’s let­ter, the ousted Cata­lan Cabi­net crit­i­cised the Euro­pean Union for turn­ing a blind eye to Cat­alo­nia’s plight.

“The time that we spend be­hind Span­ish bars or in ex­ile won’t be in vain if we re­main in the de­fence of Cat­alo­nia and in de­nounc­ing the demo­cratic deca­dence of Spain,” the let­ter said.

Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy said his gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy on Cat­alo­nia has “100 per cent back­ing” from other EU coun­tries.

Mr Ra­joy said dur­ing a visit to the city of Sala­manca, about 135 miles north­west of Madrid, that he hoped vot­ers “meet their obli­ga­tions as Spa­niards and Euro­peans” in next month’s re­gional elec­tion. Mr Ra­joy, who be­lieves a ma­jor­ity of Cata­lans do not want to break away from Spain, urged a large turnout.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-claude Juncker, who has given Mr Ra­joy his pub­lic sup­port, said na­tion­al­ist urges are “a poi­son” that harm the Euro­pean Union’s ef­forts to speak with one voice on the world stage.

In what ap­peared to be an in­di­rect re­buke of the se­ces­sion push pro­moted by some Cata­lan lead­ers, Mr Juncker said dur­ing the trip to Sala­manca that no­body has the right to undo the EU’S model of co­ex­is­tence.


0 Cata­lan par­lia­ment’s for­mer speaker Carme For­cadell ar­rives at the Supreme Court in Madrid yes­ter­day where she was first to be ques­tioned

0 Right-wing pro­test­ers hold flags say­ing ‘Long live a united Spain’

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