Top Catalan independence leader released on bail
WATCH Spain cracks down hard after Catalonia declares independence
A top Catalan independence leader left jail today after posting bond.
Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena had ruled Thursday that five Catalonian legislators could be freed on bail, including Carme Forcadell, a pro-independence activist and former speaker of the Catalonia Parliament.
Forcadell left jail this afternoon after posting the 150,000 euro (U.S. $175,000) bond, according to her lawyer, Andreu Van der Eynde.
Forcadell was one of the key figures in the push for independence in Catalunya and read the group's declaration of independence from Spain on Oct. 27 in Barcelona.
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On Oct. 30, a Spanish judge asked that 20 Catalan politicians be investigated for rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds over the push for independence that challenged Spain's central government.
Spain is currently going through one of the worst political crises in decades after a referendum in Catalunya Oct. 1 saw millions of people take to the streets to demand the right to vote. According to the Catalunya government, 90 percent of people there voted in favor of independence. Violent clashes between protesters and police injured some 900 people.
In his decision to grant the five independence leaders bail, Llarena wrote: "All the accused … have expressed they would either renounce future political activity or those who will remain active, will do it within the (Spanish) constitutional framework."
Two pacifist activists, Jordi Sanchez, the president of the Catalunya National Assembly (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart, the president of Omnium Cultural, are currently being held in prison as part of the same inquiry. Eight former Catalan government members have also been detained since last week. They are not part of the group granted bail by Llarena Thursday.
For some pro-independence Catalans who consider these detainees political prisoners, these arrests are an emotional reminder of the days of fascism in Spain.
The Catalonia Parliament was dissolved by Madrid after the declaration of independence.
Catalans are scheduled to vote in new regional elections on Dec. 21.
Meanwhile, Spanish prosecutors are still pushing for the extradition of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and five of his former ministers. They fled to Belgium after Spanish prosecutors said they would investigate them for rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 30 years. They are scheduled to appear in court in Brussels on Nov. 17.
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