Radical Catalan separatist seeks refuge in Switzerland

  • Anna Gabriel was due to appear in Madrid's Supreme Court and Swiss legal experts say she cannot be extradited

A leading member of a radical separatist party in Catalonia failed to appear before a judge at Madrid's Supreme Court on Wednesday, where she is being investigated for alleged offences including sedition and rebellion in last autumn's declaration of independence by secessionist Catalan politicians.

Anna Gabriel, of the left-wing CUP party, had moved to Switzerland some days before her expected court appearance in an attempt to avoid possible detention in a move that mirrors ex-president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who is still in Belgium.

As with Belgium, Switzerland doesn't recognise the same crime of rebellion as Spain does so extradition will not be possible, say experts on the law there.

In response to Gabriel's move and the Swiss response, the Supreme Court's investigating judge, Pedro Llarena, has issued a detention order which is only valid if the former regional MP returns to Spain.

Speaking from Geneva this week with her lawyer, Gabriel said she realised that she couldn't return and that “it was a big change in her life”.

Amnesty International

Meanwhile Amnesty International has criticised Spain for what it calls “excessive force” in trying to prevent the illegal independence referendum in Catalonia on 1 October last year.