Catalonia: 4 people imprisoned, Brussels extradition hearing –

Catalonia: 4 people imprisoned, Brussels extradition hearing


MADRID – A Spanish judge ordered Monday that four prominent members of the Catalan independence movement remain in custody, including number 2 of the ousted regional government, which will campaign in a polarized regional election from a prison near Madrid.

The judge set bail of 100,000 euros ($ 118,000) for the other six Catalan politicians who had been imprisoned at the beginning of November, and ordered that their pbadports be confiscated. The six were expected to leave the prisons near Madrid later in the day.

Meanwhile, former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four of his separatist allies heard that they will be judged on whether they can be extradited from Belgium to Spain in December. 14, exactly one week before the election.

The group refuses to return to Spain to face charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement that can be punished with decades of imprisonment under the country's criminal laws.

Puigdemont defense attorney, Paul Bekaert, insisted that Spanish charges were not punishable in Belgium and, therefore, there were no grounds for extradition.

"We also highlight the danger of impeding their human rights in Spain," he said.

Whatever decision is made on December 14, two appeals may be filed and a final decision may be made only after December 21. The conservative Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved Puigdemont's cabinet when it took control of Catalonia shortly after regional separatist legislators approved a declaration of independence in recent days. October.

The early elections are an attempt to find a democratic way out of the worst crisis in the nation in almost four decades. But the vote is shaping up as a plebiscite between those in favor and against independence, and polls predict a closed race between the two sides.

Adding to the uncertainty, a Supreme Court judge decided on Monday to defend the preventive incarceration President Oriol Junqueras, who heads the list for the left republican ERC party.

ERC was part of the old Catalan ruling coalition with the conservative party of Puigdemont and leads the polls before the new elections.

The campaign officially begins at midnight On Monday, and in the hours before that moment, Catalan pro-independence groups expect to protest in front of city councils throughout the region against the decision of the Supreme Court on detained separatists.

The events on Monday again left deep divisions among the Catalans. Pilar González, a 76-year-old housewife walking her dog in Barcelona, ​​said the imprisoned Catalan political leaders were "political prisoners." But 53-year-old contractor José Luis Aguirre said the attempt to unilaterally separate from Spain "is an act that can not be allowed."

Junqueras and the other imprisoned politicians pledged last week to give up efforts to search unilateral independence for the rich northeastern region, with the hope of being liberated.

But Judge Pablo Llarena said his decision on Monday that it remains to be seen if Junqueras' promise to abide by Spanish law is "truthful and real."

ERC spokesperson Marta Rovira described the imprisonment as "an undercover attempt" by the Spanish central authorities in Madrid ERC outside the image.

"This is a very clear attempt to win these elections without political opponents," he said.

The Spanish Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, was not moved by the arguments of the supporters of Junqueras.

"Those who commit criminal acts must put themselves at the mercy of legal decisions," Zoido said.

The judge also confirmed the custody orders without bail for the former regional minister of the Interior, Joaquim Forn, and the leaders of the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural, the two Catalan base groups that have been the main promoters of the separatist candidacy in Catalonia.

A government-run poll released on Monday that the pro-independence parties would lose their scant majority in the Catalan regional parliament. He gave ERC, Junts per Catalunya (Puigdemont & # 39; s) and far-left party CUP 66 or 67 seats outside the 135 parliamentary seats.

The election could be a closed race between the Republican left ERC party and Ciutadans (Citizens), friends of the opposition, with 21 and 22.5 percent of votes respectively, the CIS survey suggested.

The CIS said the survey had a margin of error of 1.8 percentage points. He said that 3,000 people were interrogated through telephone calls from November 23 to 27.


Raf Casert reported from Brussels.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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