Catalonia’s leaders should be jailed pending probe – Spain’s state prosecutor

The prosecutor’s office requested the jailing of Catalonian Vice-President Oriol Junqueras and seven other officials charged with rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds, while the probe is ongoing, La Vanguardia reports.

The prosecutor requested, however, that counselor Santi Vila, who resigned from government before Catalonia declared independence, be released on bail of €50,000.

On Friday, October 27 the prosecutor filed a complaint against the Catalonian government for crimes it considers “very serious.” The alleged crimes relate to Catalonia’s independence referendum in which the majority of voters opted to secede from Spain.

The Spanish government declared the referendum illegal and launched a crackdown in the region on polling day. Catalonia declared independence from Spain at the end of October but this was overruled by Spain’s Constitutional Court. Minutes later the supreme court called on Catalonian officials to testify at Thursday’s court hearings.

The request comes hours after ousted Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont failed to appear before Spanish judges. He’s currently in Brussels, seeking “freedom and safety.” Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer Paul Bekaert said that he would “cooperate with Spanish and Belgian justice.”

Catalonia’s October 1 referendum saw over 90 percent of voters opting to leave Spain. However, fewer than 50 percent of those eligible to vote took part. Pro-independence supporters blamed Madrid – who had declared the poll illegal in advance – for the low turnout. The government’s crackdown included preventing people from entering polling stations, their forcible removal when they did enter, and the confiscation of ballot boxes.

Thousands of extra officers from Spain’s national police and civil guard were deployed ahead of referendum day. More than 900 people were reportedly injured in the ensuing clashes.

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