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A SPANISH Supreme Court judge yesterday charged 13 Catalan separatist politicians, including fugitive former regional president Carles Puigdemont, with rebellion for their attempt to declare independence from Spain.
Judge Pablo Llarena’s indictment wrapped up the investigation into the events that six months ago plunged Spain into its deepest political crisis in decades.
Rebellion charges are punishable with up to 30 years in prison.
Mr Llarena said that 25 Catalan separatists in total will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience.
Others charged with rebellion were former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, who is already in pre-trial detention; seven other members of the ousted Catalan government; former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell; jailed separatist activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart and the leader of the left-wing separatist ERC party, Marta Rovira, who said yesterday she was fleeing Spain.
Mr Puigdemont, taking a break from self-imposed exile in Brussels with a trip to Finland, said that “it is not right for a judge to do politics.”
In a letter to party supporters published online, Ms Rovira said that she was sad to leave Spain, “but it’s been more saddening to lead a silenced life.”
Mr Puigdemont and four other Catalan politicians fled to Brussels following the failed secession attempt in late October. Anna Gabriel, a former MP for the left-wing separatist CUP party, fled to Switzerland earlier this year.
Spain’s post-Franco constitution insists the country is “indivisible” and courts have blocked Catalonia’s independence efforts at every turn. Secession is not allowed without a constitutional amendment.
Twelve of the former regional ministers are also charged with misuse of public funds. And seven other MPs are charged with disobedience.
The judge also required the 14 ex-members of the Catalan cabinet to pay €2.1 million (£1.85m) as a collective deposit before the trial establishes whether they need to pay back misused public funds.
That includes €1.6m that, according to the judicial investigation, were used to pay for the October 1 referendum that set the turbulent events in motion, and which Madrid insists was illegal.
Mr Llarena described the case as “an attack on the constitutional state that, through the desire to impose a change in the form of government for Catalonia and the rest of the country, is of unusual gravity and persistence.”
His ruling also warned that the strategy to secede Catalonia was “dormant and awaiting resumption” once separatists regained control of the Catalan government.
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