Spanish prosecutors request jail for Catalan parliament speaker: source

From Reuters - November 9, 2017

MADRID (Reuters) - Spains state prosecutor on Thursday asked a judge to jail the Catalan parliament speaker who enabled its declaration of independence while an investigation into charges of rebellion and sedition continues, according to a court source.

Prosecutors also requested jail for three Catalan lawmakers summoned to the Supreme Court and the release of two others on certain conditions, the source said, confirming a report in El Pais newspaper.

A spokeswoman for the court declined to comment.

If the judge upholds the request, the speaker, Carme Forcadell, would join eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots groups who are in custody awaiting trial for their leading roles in the independence drive.

On Thursday, High Court Judge Carmen Lamela rejected an appeal presented by their lawyers for their release, a court spokeswoman said.

Forcadell had earlier told the Supreme Court that the Oct. 27 independence declaration was not legally binding, according to court sources, in a comment that could undermine the regions secessionist push.

The Catalan independence push has deeply divided Spain, dragging it into its worst political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago and fuelling anti-Spanish sentiment in Catalonia and nationalist tendencies elsewhere.

But the struggle has also divided Catalonia itself, and cracks have begun appearing within the pro-independence movement.

On Tuesday, deposed Catalan president Carles PuigdemontsPDeCAT party failed to agree on a united ticket to contest the election with another secessionist party, making it difficult for the pro-independence camp to govern the region after the vote and press ahead with its bid to split from Spain.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election following the independence declaration, which also prompted him to dissolve the Catalan parliament and fire Puigdemonts administration.



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