Spanish Judge jails Catalan leaders a week after region declared independence

World Today

Demonstrators holding banners reading in Catalan “freedom for the political prisoners” gather outside the Catalonian Parliament to protest against the decision of a judge to jail ex-members of the Catalan government, in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. A Spanish judge has ordered nine ex-members of the government in Catalonia jailed while they are investigated on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Catalonia’s ousted President sees it as a grave mistake, and an attack on democracy. At least eight of the region’s former leaders are in jail – and Carles Puigdemont is demanding their release.

A Spanish judge ordered the jailing as part of the fallout from the Catalonia region’s independence declaration. Puigdemont and four others were no-shows for that court hearing.

They fled to Brussels, where a warrant for their arrest could soon follow.

CGTN’s Al Goodman was in Madrid for the court hearing. 

Catalan politicians who led the drive for independence from Spain went to court in Madrid on Thursday. The Spanish government has used constitutional powers to take direct rule of the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Now, Spain’s high courts are considering the prosecutor’s charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds against the ousted Catalan regional government and the dissolved Catalan parliament.

The ousted Catalan government went before a judge at Spain’s National Court while leaders of the dissolved Catalan parliament went nearby, to the Supreme Court. The charges are similar: rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds.

There was a reprieve for the six Catalans at the Supreme Court. The judge postponed their main hearing until next week but put them under police vigilance.

The court date comes a week after the Catalan leaders voted for the region of Catalonia to break away from Spain. Analysts contend the hearings are just the beginning of a long legal battle, now joining the long political dispute over the future of Catalonia.