Published: Sun, March 25, 2018
Tech | By Constance Martin

Catalan secessionists fail again to elect new regional head

Catalan secessionists fail again to elect new regional head

Occasional clashes broke out between riot police and protesters as the large crowds pushed against police cordons, La Vanguardia reports.

Twenty-five Catalan leaders will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state, Spain's Supreme Court has ruled, in a sharp escalation of legal action against separatists in the north-eastern region.

Turull was one of the five politicians who responded to a court summons, only to find that Judge Llarena had chose to send them to jail, denying them bail.

Rebellion charges are punishable with up to 30 years in prison under Spanish law.

Most prominent among them is Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia's ex-president, who has been living in Belgium since October.

Judge Llarena also issued an arrest warrant for Marta Rovira, the head of the separatist Esquerra Republicana party, who failed to appear in court on Friday.

The court also issued worldwide arrest warrants for six other Catalan figures who have fled overseas, including former regional president Carles Puigdemont. "It is not right for a judge to do politics", Mr Puigdemont said.

The court decisions further inflamed the protesters in Barcelona, some of whom burnt pictures of King Felipe VI, a crime in Spain, as well as photos of judge Llarena.

The other politicians who entered preventive detention included ex-parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell and three former members of the regional government.

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Turull will be sent to the prison of Estremera, where two other Catalan leaders, Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn, are already being held. However, she chose to flee the country to live "in exile", as she stated in a letter.

Although the leadership vote for Mr Turull can no longer take place on Saturday, Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent said he would use the parliamentary session to read a statement in support of those in prison.

The Spanish government called new regional elections in December, in which secessionist parties won again.

Another, calmer, rally filled the huge Catalonia Square in central Barcelona. The issue of independence not only has generated a conflict with Madrid but also has split Catalan society.

But the separatist majority proved to be a failure in electing a regional government in a Thursday vote.

Wild protests have erupted in the Basque region of Barcelona after a Spanish High Court detained five Catalan politicians for their role in the region's secessionist bid staged in October previous year.

If Mr Turull is not jailed today, parliament rules give him a second chance to be considered as the north-eastern region's leader tomorrow, when he would need a simple majority of votes.

Friday's rulings at the Supreme Court in Madrid were considered the most serious challenge to date to the Catalan independence movement.

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