Catalonia cancels vote to elect jailed separatist leader

Catalonia cancels vote to elect jailed separatist leader


Spain's Supreme Court said on March 23 that it would prosecute 13 key Catalan separatists for "rebellion", as Marta Rovira became the latest leading pro-independence figure to flee overseas to escape charges over the region's breakaway bid.

The Spanish Supreme Court charged the former President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and 12 others, backers of the Spanish region's secession with the crime of rebellion on Friday.

The case against Catalan separatists is now led by Judge Llarena from the Supreme Court, but two other courts, one in Madrid and another in Barcelona, are also investigating officials accused of civil disobedience and other offenses, including organizing the independence referendum held last October, even after it was declared illegal by Madrid. Emergency services said 24 people were lightly injured in clashes between police and demonstrators. If a second investiture debate happens today, Mr Turull would only need a simple majority to assume the presidency.

It comes as a Supreme Court judge ordered the imprisonment of the former regional minister with other four separatists with no bail.

One of those taken into custody was Jordi Turull who was to be the subject of a vote in the Catalan parliament on Saturday for regional president.

Judge Llarena also issued an arrest warrant for Marta Rovira, the head of the separatist Esquerra Republicana party, who failed to appear in court on Friday.

He did not set a date for the trial.

It later emerged that she had fled into exile and Spanish media reported that she was in Switzerland.

The central government is now running Catalonia from Madrid.

Catalan television aired footage of more crowds in towns in the region, including Vic and Tarragona.

Catalan secessionist parties failed on Thursday for a third time to elect a regional president, leaving them with a deadline of two months to pick someone or hold a new election.

Following the order many Catalan politicians fled Spain to avoid detention by the authorities. If they can not agree to a government in two months, another regional election will be held.

Puigdemont, who has been in self-imposed exile in Brussels for five months and faces immediate arrest should he return to Spain, said his former colleagues had been jailed for "their ideas and their commitment", adding: "The anti-democratic Spanish state shames Europe".

The judicial action in recent weeks has hit the Catalan independence movement, with some of its main players giving up their public roles while others have toned down their rhetoric.

Following the referendum, the central government in Madrid sacked the Catalan regional government, imposed direct rule and called new elections but pro-independence parties returned with a slim majority.

  • Terrell Bush