Catalonia crisis: Protests as ex-ministers held in Spanish custody

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Media captionIn Barcelona’s central sq., the gang sings Freedom for Catalonia

Thousands of Catalans have protested in opposition to the detention of eight regional ministers sacked over Catalonia’s push for independence from Spain.

The officers – who appeared in Spain’s excessive courtroom – are accused of riot, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Prosecutors are additionally looking for a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalan chief Carles Puigdemont, who didn’t present up in courtroom and is now in Belgium.

The request additionally covers 4 different ex-ministers who ignored the summons.

Spain has been gripped by a constitutional disaster since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1 October in defiance of a constitutional courtroom ruling that had declared it unlawful.

Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling native elections for 21 December.

This got here after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare the independence of the prosperous north-eastern area.

The Catalan authorities stated that of the 43% of potential voters who took half within the referendum, 90% have been in favour of independence.

On Thursday, 1000’s of individuals gathered outdoors Catalonia’s regional parliament in Barcelona.

Many carried Catalan flags and slogans that learn “Freedom for political prisoners”.

Similar protest rallies have been held in different Catalan cities.

Political events and civic teams within the prosperous north-eastern area additionally condemned the judicial transfer,

What occurred in Spain’s excessive courtroom in Madrid?

Nine out of 14 summoned Catalan ex-ministers appeared earlier than Judge Carmen Lamela.

She stated they needed to be detained as a result of they could in any other case depart the nation or destroy proof.

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Seven of the eight ex-ministers have been pictured turning as much as courtroom collectively

Those who have been held are:

  • Former Deputy Vice-President Oriol Junqueras
  • Former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn
  • Former Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva
  • Former Justice Minister Carles Mundó
  • Former Labour Minister Dolors Bbada
  • Former Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull
  • Former Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull
  • Former Culture Minister Meritxell Borras

The ninth official, ex-Business Minister Santi Vila, was granted bail on the request of prosecutors. He stop earlier than the Catalan parliament voted for independence final Friday.

In addition to Mr Puigdemont, prosecutors have requested Spain’s excessive courtroom choose to challenge European arrest warrants for the next Catalan officers:

  • Meritxell Serret, former agriculture minister
  • Antoni Comín, former well being minister
  • Lluís Puig, former tradition minister
  • Clara Ponsatí, former schooling minister

Five different senior members of the Catalan parliament, in addition to Speaker Carme Forcadell, are dealing with the identical costs however, due to their parliamentary immunity, their instances are being dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Their hearings have been postponed till 9 November.

How did Carles Puigdemont react?

In an announcement broadcast on Catalan TV from an undisclosed location in Belgium, he described the detentions as “an act that breaks with the basic principles of democracy”.

“I demand the release of the ministers and the vice-president,” he added.

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Radio Television Espanola

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Carles Puigdemont was pictured in a Belgian cafe

Mr Puigdemont, who was noticed in a Brussels cafe on Thursday, has stated he won’t return to Spain except he receives ensures of a good trial. He didn’t specify his precise calls for.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor has stated the legislation will probably be utilized as soon as an arrest warrant is obtained, in accordance with Efe information company.

Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer stated the local weather was “not good” for him to look in courtroom, however he additionally stated his shopper would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium.

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Mr Puigdemont’s dealing with of the disaster has drawn criticism amongst another Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticising him for creating “yet more bewilderment”.

Spain’s central financial institution warned on Thursday of the “significant risks and economic costs” ensuing from the disaster, and that Catalonia’s financial system may fall into recession.

Early numbers recommend that the very important tourism sector of the area has already been affected by the continued uncertainty.

EU arrest warrant: What occurs subsequent?

If Spain’s excessive courtroom choose points a warrant, a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) will probably be despatched to Belgian prosecutors, who’ve 24 hours to determine whether or not the paperwork is right. If they do, they then have 15 days to arrest Mr Puigdemont and the 4 others. If one or all of them appeals in opposition to it, that course of may final one other 15 days.

Belgium has a most of 60 days to return the suspects to Spain after arrest. But if the suspects don’t elevate authorized objections, a switch may occur inside a number of days.

A rustic can reject an EU arrest warrant if it fears that extradition would violate the suspect’s human rights. Discrimination based mostly on politics, faith or race is grounds for refusal. So are fears that the suspect wouldn’t get a good trial.

There is an agreed EU checklist of 32 offences – in Article Two of the EAW legislation – for which there isn’t any requirement for the offence to be a criminal offense in each nations. In different phrases, any of these offences could be a justification for extradition, supplied the penalty is at the very least three years in jail.

However, neither “sedition” nor “rebellion” – two of the Spanish accusations in opposition to the Catalan leaders – are on that checklist.

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