Ex-Catalan leader, Puigdemont, 12 others charged with rebellion

Ex-Catalan leader, Puigdemont, 12 others charged with rebellion

Ex-Catalan leader, Puigdemont, 12 others charged with rebellion

Catalonian riot police clash with protesters.

The decision sparked a wave of demonstrations in Barcelona and across Catalonia on Friday.

Many Catalans went to the streets after yesterday the Spanish Supreme Court chose to sue 25 of the former district leaders who took measures to declare the independence of the area in the autumn of a year ago.

Other separatist figures are already in custody or have gone into exile overseas.

Thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Catalonia late on Friday after Spain's supreme court detained five separatist leaders for their role in last year's independence bid.

In a statement, the court said the indictment concerns activities going back six years created to "execute a predetermined plan with the aim of declaring Catalonia's independence, outside of the law".

The court has not yet ruled on whether they will be jailed in advance of a trial, although one of the five, Marta Rovira, said on Friday she had fled Spain and gone into exile.

The leaders are charged with rebellion, along with eight others, over their involvement in a push for independence.

Mr Puigdemont and fellow separatists have all denied any wrongdoing, saying the plebiscite gave them the authority to break away from Spain.

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This may have come as a big blow for separatists in Catalonia as the speaker of the region's parliament has suspended a scheduled vote to elect a jailed pro-independence leader as the new regional president of the northeastern part of Spain.

All five spent some time in detention following the banned referendum but were released on bail late past year pending investigations into their individual roles in the vote. He did not set a date for their trial.

Turull will be sent to the prison of Estremera, where two other Catalan leaders, Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn, are already being held.

The head of the Catalan Republican Left party, Marta Rovira, who was also summoned to the High Court, announced on Friday that she had left Spain to live in exile in Switzerland.

"Exile will be a hard road, but it is the only way I have to recover my political voice", Ms Rovira said in a letter.

Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont too fled to Belgium in October of 2017. The court could rule the candidate ineligible to hold office or imprison him if it finds there is enough incriminating evidence, thus torpedoing any hopes of a second debate later today.

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 announcement of the charges followed Thursday night's investiture debate in the Catalan parliament, in which Turull's first attempt to be elected was scuppered by the region's most hardline pro-independence party.

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