Catalonia: Judge jails eight ousted ministers

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A Spanish judge has ordered that eight dismissed Catalan ministers be jailed while they are investigated on potential charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement.

Carmen Lamela, sitting in Spain’s national court, jailed the eight former ministers – including Puigdemont’s deputy, Oriol Junqueras – on Thursday while they are investigated on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Lamela ruled that a ninth, who resigned the day before the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence last Friday, could remain at liberty on bail of €50,000 (£44,600).

Lawyers for those under investigation said their clients would appeal against the judge’s decision, which they described as unjustified, disproportionate and predetermined.

Puigdemont, who travelled to Brussels shortly before Spain’s attorney general announced his intention to pursue the charges, had been summoned to attend the national court to give evidence on Thursday and Friday.

In a written request to Lamela, prosecutors said that Puigdemont and four other members of his administration were aware that they had been ordered to testify, but had chosen not to attend.

The order was issued on Thursday after state prosecutors, who are investigating the leaders over their involvement in the breakaway region’s declaration of independence, requested the ministers be held.

Mireia Boya Busquets, a Catalan MP from the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy party, tweeted “the legitimate government is in prison.

This is a fascist state. If we normalise it we erase ourselves as a people”.

Among those jailed without bail are sacked Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, the former spokesperson for the Catalan government, former Minister of the Workforce Dolors Bassa and others.

The only former minister who may be released is Santi Vila, the former head of the Ministry of Business, pending a 50,000 euro ($58,300) bail payment.

Meanwhile, a state prosecutor requested a National Court to issue a European-wide arrest warrant on Thursday for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four other sacked ministers.

Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, Puigdemont’s Catalan attorney, tweeted that it was a “grand injustice” and a “sad day for democracy”.

The Belgian attorney general told the Spanish news agency, Efe, that if his office receives a warrant for Puigdemont the “law will be applied”.

“If we receive [the warrant], we won’t be able to make more comments or conjectures,” he said.

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