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Catalan parliament speaker in court over independence bid
November 10, 2017
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Madrid: The speaker of Catalonia’s sacked parliament appeared before Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday in the latest legal case brought against separatist leaders for their role in the region’s divisive independence bid.

A judge may decide to detain Carme Forcadell and five former Catalan lawmakers on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds after Catalonia’s parliament voted last month to split from Spain.

They are suspected of having followed a “concerted strategy to declare independence”, before the official declaration on October 27, deepening Spain’s most serious political crisis in decades.

That declaration was annulled Wednesday by Spain’s Constitutional Court.

The Catalan crisis has prompted hundreds of businesses to re-register outside the wealthy northeastern region and caused disquiet in a European Union still dealing with Britain’s shock decision to leave the bloc.

On Wednesday, a general strike called in Catalonia by a pro-independence union triggered widespread travel chaos, cutting Spain’s main highway link to France and the rest of Europe and disrupting trains from Barcelona to Paris, Marseille and Lyon.

Authorities said around 150,000 people were affected.

Encouraged by their charismatic figurehead Carles Puigdemont, Catalan leaders voted to declare unilateral independence from Spain after going ahead with a banned referendum on October 1.

Separatists said 90 per cent of voters opted for independence, but critics counter that pro-unity supporters had boycotted a plebiscite that violated Spain’s constitution. In response, the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy suspended Catalan autonomy dismissing its parliament and government, and organised new regional elections for December 21.

A judge in Madrid last week ordered that eight members of Puigdemont’s sacked government be detained for their role in the secession drive.

Agence France-Presse

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