SPAIN’S Supreme Court has charged former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and 13 other senior pro-independence politicians over the push for the region’s secession.
A total of 25 leaders are now set to be tried for rebellion, misuse of public funds and disobeying the state after last year’s independence referendum and declaration.
The ruling was followed by the country’s State Prosecutor’s Office reactivating arrest warrants for Puigdemont, ex-CUP leader Anna Gabriel and ERC general secretary Marta Rovira this afternoon. The three politicians are all currently living abroad in an attempt to evade being detained.
Jordi Turull, the man set to run for the Presidency of Cataluña in a parliamentary vote tomorrow, reportedly arrived at the Supreme Court in tears this afternoon.
He was heard saying goodbye to his wife before going inside. The court has since released him on bail.
Marta Rovira has fled the country and did not appear before the court. She said: “I start a hard road, that of exile,” and is believed to be in Switzerland where Anna Gabriel is currently living.
Each of those charged could go to prison for a maximum of thirty years under Spanish law. Pablo Llarena wrote in his ruling on the case that those charged had being planning to push for independence since 2012 in concert with grassroots organisations.
“Despite repeated warnings that these parliamentary initiatives were unconstitutional and invalid the executive organs of the Catalan government pressed on with a permanent and obsessive agenda,” the ruling stated.
Speaking in Helsinki, Puigdemont said Rovira and the others charged had his “total support” and added he would not renounce his position as a deputy in Cataluña’s Parliament.
Ciudadanos spokesperson Carlos Carrizosa said at a press conference the flight of figures such as Rovira showed their approach was one of “every man for himself”.
Carrizosa, who speaks on behalf of the largest single party in the legislature, said: “Those who have caused the discredit of institutions and the division of Catalan society run away when they have to respond for their actions.”
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was in Brussels for European Union meetings today, said he did not want elections to be repeated in Cataluña. A snap vote was held in December after the government in Madrid took control over the region following a unilateral independence declaration.
“I hope that the parties in Cataluña will be able to resolve this quickly,” Rajoy said.
The Catalan Parliament was set to convene tomorrow to vote on making Jordi Turull, who served previously as Puigdemont’s chief of staff, the region’s president. The process has now begun to cancel the meeting, according to reports.
He lost an earlier vote after the far left Candidatura d’Unitat Popular party’s four deputies in the legislature abstained from the vote.
Iñigo Mendez de Vigo, the spokesperson for the government, said it was an “essential condition” that Turull is present for the vote.