Judge jails, sets bail for top lawmaker in Catalonia probe

The Associated Press

Ex-speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell, front right, arrives at Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid on Thursday.

The Associated PressMADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge jailed Catalonia’s top lawmaker Thursday in a rebellion probe stemming from an independence declaration, but set Carme Forcadell’s bail at €150,000 ($175,000) and ordered her passport to be confiscated as the investigation continues.

Forcadell is speaker of the regional parliament whose separatist lawmakers passed a declaration to proclaim Catalonia as a new republic. She was sent to a jail near Madrid late Thursday, but was expected to get out after making bail Friday.

Spain’s Constitutional Court warned that the Oct. 27 vote in the Catalan Parliament would be illegal and most opposition lawmakers boycotted the session.

The Spanish government immediately seized control of the wealthy northeastern region, the first time in the four decades since Gen. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship ended that Madrid has removed powers from any of the country’s 17 regions.

Central authorities also dismissed Catalonia’s regional president and his government, who are now also jailed on preliminary rebellion charges or fighting extradition to Spain from Belgium. Spain also dissolved the parliament and called a new regional election for Dec. 21.

Prosecutors are pursuing charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against 20 regional representatives in all. The crimes are punishable by up to 30 years of imprisonment under Spanish law.

Spain Supreme Court magistrate Pablo Llarena questioned Forcadell and five other members of the Catalan parliament’s governing body on Thursday for more than 10 hours before deciding whether to jail them.

In his ruling, Llarena wrote that all “have expressed that either they renounce future political activity or, those who want to remain active, will do it renouncing any actions outside the constitutional framework.”

The judge set a €25,000 ($29,000) bail to be paid in one week for four of the lawmakers, and released from custody another who had made the Oct. 27 independence vote possible by allowing a debate on secession but opposed the declaration of a separate republic.

While appearing in court for questioning, Forcadell described the independence declaration as “symbolic,” according to lawyers familiar with her testimony.

The lawyers asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the court proceedings.

Catalonia’s deposed regional president, Carles Puigdemont, and four of his former Cabinet members fled to Brussels, where they are fighting Spanish arrest and extradition orders.

In a letter posted on social media Thursday, the five called on voters to support pro-secession parties in Catalonia’s upcoming regional election.Speech

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