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Catalonia: the separatist president of Parliament in court

Ⓒ AFP – STR – | Catalan regional independence president Carme Forcadell
arrives at the Madrdi Supreme Court on 9 November 2017

The president of the Parliament of Catalonia, the separatist
Carme Forcadell, was heard Thursday by a judge of the Supreme
Court who will decide whether she should be imprisoned in an
investigation for “rebellion”, when several members of the hard
separatist core are already behind bars.

In the wake of a strike in Catalonia to denounce the
imprisonment of separatist leaders, Carme Forcadell and five
other elected officials were heard by the judge of the Supreme
Court of Madrid, Pablo Llarena.

Ms. Forcadell’s hearing, which began shortly before 10:00 am
(09:00 GMT), lasted two hours, and the Speaker of the Catalan
Parliament agreed to answer the prosecution’s questions,
according to a judicial source. The other parliamentarians had
to be heard in the process.

The president of the Catalan Parliament had previously been
greeted by the cries of protesters for and against
independence. “You are not alone!”, Said some to the
independentist elected, “Puigdemont (dismissed independence
president) in prison,” shouted the others.

The Court, competent in the case of parliamentarians, has
found admissible the prosecutor’s request for an inquiry into
possible rebellion or sedition, or even misappropriation of
funds, offenses committed to declare independence.

Ms. Forcadell and the other five parliamentarians are
believed to have followed “a concerted strategy to declare
independence”.

This strategy began according to the prosecutor’s office
well before the official declaration of independence of the
Catalan Parliament on October 27th, a declaration annulled
Wednesday by the Constitutional Court, in the most serious
crisis that Spain has known in 40 years of democracy.

Judge Pablo Llarena, who has been in Catalonia for more than
20 years and knows Catalan affairs, has to decide whether to
place them in pre-trial detention, like a large part of the
Catalan independence leaders who organized this referendum on 1
October. self-determination prohibited by the courts.

– ‘Political prisoners’ –

The president of the region deposed by Madrid, Carles
Puigdemont, pursued by the Spanish justice for rebellion and
sedition, has left the country for the last ten days for
Belgium where justice considers a European arrest warrant at
the request of the ‘Spain.

Four members of his dismissed government accompanied him in
his Belgian exile, whence Mr Puigdemont signed Thursday a
letter published by a Catalan daily, El Punt Avui, calling for
the “release of political prisoners held hostage by the Spanish
state. “.

The human rights organization Amnesty International,
however, rejects the idea that they are “prisoners of
conscience”. “They are accused of acts that can constitute
crimes,” she wrote Wednesday night on Twitter.

Ⓒ AFP – JAVIER SORIANO – |

The separatists believe they won the referendum of 1
October, banned by Madrid, with 90% of the vote and a
participation rate of 43%. These unverifiable figures justify,
in their view, the declaration of independence that
followed.

It was Carme Forcadell who had counted, one by one, the
ballots of the elected representatives who had voted for
secession, 70 out of 135, a fact without precedent in
Spain.

The offense of rebellion is punishable in Spain by 15 to 30
years in prison and sedition by up to 15 years.

– 150,000 passengers affected –

This judicialisation of the Catalan crisis has led to many
demonstrations by Catalan separatists, who believe that their
leaders are now “political prisoners”, when they have to
prepare the regional elections convened by the central
government for 21 December.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of passengers and hundreds
of trucks, especially to France were blocked in Catalonia by
separatists protesting against these incarcerations cries of
“Freedom! Freedom!”

In total, 150,000 passengers, including 10,000 high-speed
trains, were affected by cancellations or delays.

But unlike the general strike of
October 3, the majority of businesses and businesses in
Barcelona and its region have functioned normally. The two main
Spanish unions, CCOO and UGT, had not called this time for a
strike.

Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido on Thursday called the
strike a “total failure”, wondering if the Catalans wanted to
remain “in the hands of the radicals”.

In the last regional elections in 2015, the independence
parties won 47.8% of the vote and 72 out of 135 seats in the
regional parliament. Polls are predicting for the moment a very
tight result for the December poll.

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