Catalan separatist radicals block leadership bid

24 March, 2018, 16:12 | Author: Julian Swanson
  • Jordi Turull sits next to the empty seat of Carles Puigdemont the former Catalan regional president | Alberto Estévez  EFE via EPA

The judge also ordered that European and global arrest warrants be issued for six fugitive Catalan politicians, including former regional president Carles Puigdemont and Rovira. The protesters are called as "Mossos" in Spain.

Two separatist leaders wanted by the Spanish authorities are in self-imposed exile in Belgium and Switzerland.

On Friday morning, Judge Pablo Llarena announced that 13 senior Catalan leaders - including Turull and the deposed regional president, Carles Puigdemont - would be charged with rebellion over their roles in last year's unilateral referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

One of the leaders facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted, Marta Rovira, earlier said she had already fled Spain, joining six others in exile.

The judge later ruled that Turull and four others - among them the former speaker of the Catalan parliament - would be denied bail and remanded in custody.

In total, 25 separatist politicians will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience, the judge said in a court ruling, upping the legal stakes in Madrid's response to separatists in the wealthy northeastern region. "Long live a Catalan Republic for all!", she said in a letter published in the Spanish media.

Catalonia is at the centre of an unprecedented constitutional crisis for Spain.

Spain's Justice Minister Rafael Catala accused the separatists of seeking "a clash with the rule of law, with institutions".

The four MPs of far-left party CUP demanded a clear path to build a Catalan independent republic | Marta Pérez  EFE via EPA
The four MPs of far-left party CUP demanded a clear path to build a Catalan independent republic | Marta Pérez EFE via EPA

According to Barcelona health authorities, at least 24 people requested medical help, majority for bruises, following scuffles with police.

The decision was met with calls for demonstrations on the streets of Catalonia.

Catalan TV showed rallies in support of the jailed leaders elsewhere in the region including in the cities of Vic and Tarragona.

Carlos Carrizosa, the Catalan parliamentary spokesman for the unionist party Ciudadanos, said that with the failure to approve Mr Turull as president on Thursday, it was clear the independence process was "finished".

Llarena said he considered that the current "attack on the State" was of a "gravity. without comparison in neighbouring democracies".

Judge Llarena, in announcing his ruling, cited injuries to sixty Spanish policemen who had attempted to prevent an independence referendum from going ahead in Catalonia on October 1. Thirteen of the defendants have been charged with rebellion by Judge Llarena. Parties have two months to propose and elect a presidential candidate.

It was in anticipation of the court decision that the two main pro-independence political parties chose to rush ahead with the investiture session late Wednesday. They include Jordi Turull, a former minister of the ousted regional Cabinet who on Thursday failed in his bid to be elected as the region's new president, as well as a former speaker of the Catalan parliament and prominent members of the republican-left ERC party. The radical-left separatist CUP party says its representatives won't vote for Turull, leaving him short of an absolute majority in the regional chamber.

Turull could still be chosen in a second vote due to take place on Saturday when only a simple majority is needed, but it is unclear whether this will happen.

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