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2 NOVEMBER 2017: Custody without bail for Catalan independence MPs

Some of the Catalan MPs who appeared in court.
Some of the Catalan MPs who appeared in court. / EFE
  • Carles Puigdemont fled to Brussels with five other supporters and fresh elections were called

On Thursday 2 November 2017, prosecutors in Madrid called for former senior members of the Catalan regional government to be denied bail and held in jail following the attempted declaration of independence on 27 October when MPs voted to create a "Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state".

Judge Carmen Lamela agreed, saying that there was a high risk of another crime being committed and evidence destroyed while investigations continue into their role in the unilateral declaration of independence vote (UDI) in the Catalan parliament and the events leading up to it.

Of the regional leaders who were called to appear in Madrid's central Audiencia Nacional court on Thursday, only nine made the journey to the capital. Eight of the attendees, including ex-vice president, Oriol Junqueras, were refused bail and faced possible charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Only one who attended the court session, the former Business minister Santi Vila, was allowed free if he deposited 50,000 euros in bail. Vila had resigned his post in the Catalan regional government in protest at the planned UDI just ahead of the vote.

All the regional ministers, known as 'consellers', and former president Carles Puigdemont, were removed from their posts on 28 October, the day after the declaration, with the application of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution that imposed elements of direct rule from Madrid.

Five of the former top regional government team were absent from the court session on 2 November having fled to Belgium, including Puigdemont himself.

At the time they claimed they had gone to the Belgian capital to seek legal advice and try to have their court appearance handled by video link, a move which the court refused.

Prosecutors also asked the judge to sign an international warrant to for their arrest, which was issued.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, the Supreme Court heard from lawyers of the rebel speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and five regional MPs who at the time controlled the parliamentary agenda. They were summoned on suspicion of the same offences as the leaders.

Having dismissed the rebel Catalonian MPs, the then president of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, announced that there would be regional elections on 21 December.

In the event, while no party gained an absolute majority, between them the independence parties gained enough seats to govern, showing that there were still strong pro-independence feelings in the autonomous region.

Carles Puigdemont remains in Belgium where last Saturday, 27 October, he announced that he has launched a new party, Crida Nacional (National Call).