Spain Catalonia: Four top separatists to stay in jail


Spain Catalonia: Four top separatists to stay in jail

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The former ministers have been held on remand for a month

Two senior figures in the sacked Catalan separatist government must stay in jail but six others can go free, a Spanish supreme court judge has ruled.

The six set to leave Spanish jails must post bail of €100,000 (£88,000; $120,000) each. Two top activists must also remain in jail.

The separatists were remanded in custody last month. Catalan ex-President Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium. All are accused of sedition.

Spain feared the others could flee too.

The ruling came a day before the start of campaigning for the 21 December Catalan regional election.

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  • Catalan politicians struggle with Spanish prison regime
  • Would Catalonia be a viable country?

The judge in Madrid ruled that Mr Puigdemont's deputy Oriol Junqueras and Catalan ex-Interior Minister Joaquim Forn must stay in jail, along with grassroots separatist leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart.

The eight politicians are accused of rebellion and sedition over the region's illegal declaration of independence in October.

A new opinion poll suggests that pro-independence parties will fall narrowly short of an absolute majority in the December election. It was conducted by the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) among Catalan voters in late November.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Carles Puigdemont has given many media interviews in Brussels

Mr Puigdemont and four other ex-ministers also appeared in court in Brussels on Monday. Spain wants them to be extradited, and a lawyer for Mr Puigdemont tweeted that a Belgian judge would decide on 14 December.

After the Catalan independence referendum and declaration of a "republic", Spain imposed direct rule on the region and called early elections there.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jordi Cuixart (left) and Jordi Sanchez head the main Catalan separatist movements

Rebellion is considered one of the most serious crimes in Spain, carrying a jail term of up to 30 years.

Eight ex-ministers have been in Spanish prisons since 2 November.

Mr Junqueras leads Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), one of the main separatist parties.

He and the others remaining in jail were, according to the Madrid judge, responsible for instigating violence in the run-up to the independence declaration.

Those freed on bail are:

  • Former foreign policy chief Raül Romeva
  • Former Justice Minister Carles Mundó
  • Former Labour Minister Dolors Bassa
  • Former Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull
  • Former Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull
  • Former Culture Minister Meritxell Borras

The bail conditions state that they must report every week to a judge in Catalonia, they cannot leave Spain and they have to surrender their passports.

In Belgium, the defence lawyers for Mr Puigdemont and his aides urged the authorities not to send them back to Spain because they would be at risk of "a violation of legal safeguards" were they to face trial.

They also argued that extradition would be wrong because the European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain listed crimes which had no equivalent in Belgian law.

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