Catalan independence: Spain prosecutor calls for rebellion case

Oct 31, 2017, 00:20
Catalan independence: Spain prosecutor calls for rebellion case

An early regional election on December 21 is on the horizon, when both separatists and unionists will present candidates, but before that the country is likely to endure weeks of political uncertainty.

The news came after Spain's state prosecutor announced it was seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against Catalan cabinet members who were sacked this weekend. He didn't specify if those would include their immediate arrest and detention before trial.

The crime of rebellion is punishable in Spain by up to 30 years in prison, with 15 years given for sedition and six years in prison the sentence for embezzlement.

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has travelled to Brussels, Spanish government officials said.

Early on Monday, Puigdemont posted a picture on Instagram of the inside of the government palace, though it was not clear when the picture had been taken.

Catalonia, a prosperous region with its own language and culture, triggered Spain's biggest crisis for decades by holding an independence referendum on October 1, which Spanish courts called illegal. An anonymous Spanish official told The Associated Press that Puigdemont has left the country and traveled to Brussels.

" 'I don't know - the Catalan government says they are in charge, but the Spanish government says they are, ' said Cristina Guillen, an employee in a nearby bag shop". "So I have no idea, really".

On Friday, Theresa May said the British Government "does not and will not" recognise Catalonia's independence.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Sunday that Puigdemont would be eligible to run in the election, provided he is not imprisoned.

A key factor will be how Catalonia's estimated 200,000 public workers react to their bosses' dismissal, and whether any stay away from work in protest.

Belgian PM Michel, who is the only serving European Union leader to have criticized Spain's approach to the Catalan crisis, stressed however that there was no official offer of asylum for Puigdemont.

"The Catalan president continues to declare himself president and has called for a "democratic opposition" to the Spanish government's takeover of the region".

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