Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Judge refuses to free four Catalan leaders as elections near

Moncloa allows senior officials of the Generalitat to be in the Puigdemont team Spain Catalonia: Four separatist politicians to stay in jail
Dexter Carr | 05 December, 2017, 02:14

Catalonia's sacked vice president Oriol Junqueras and three other separatist leaders will remain in prison during a probe over their role in the region's independence drive, a Spanish judge decided Monday, as critical Catalan elections approach.

The much-watched CIS survey released Monday says that the three separatist parties in the parliament would win 66 or 67 seats in a new Catalan parliament. The poll of 3,000 people was conducted by telephone November 23-Nov. 27.

Catalonia's ousted president Carles Puigdemont and four of his separatist allies should learn whether they can be extradited from Belgium to Spain on December 14, lawyers have said. The Catalans' legal team, however, said the alleged offenses are "not punishable" under Belgian law and said their human rights would be affected if they were returned back to Spain.

With political campaigning not set to get underway until midnight, Catalan pro-independence groups held protests in front of town halls to oppose the Supreme Court's decision to keep some of the independence movement's leaders in custody.

The Supreme Court judge also upheld custody orders without bail for the former regional interior minister, Joaquim Forn, and the leaders of Assemblea Nacional Catalan and Omnium Cultural, two grassroots groups that have been the main drivers of the separatist bid in Catalonia.

According to a Supreme Court statement, the judge ruled that, while he considered there was no risk the defendants would leave the country, it remained to be seen if their pledges to respect Spanish law and renounce unilateral independence for Catalonia were "truthful and real".

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The full Catalan cabinet was ousted over a month ago for making an independence declaration and its members are facing rebellion and other charges punishable with decades in prison.

Madrid wants the polls to "restore normality" to the wealthy northeastern region, which declared independence unilaterally following a hotly disputed October 1 referendum.

The Dec. 21 ballot is shaping up as a plebiscite between those for and against independence.

The judge shall decide, at end of hearing, date on which he will issue his decision on Spanish euroórdenes weighing against m, that magistrate may resolve this Monday or postpone to anor day "if necessary", and that he is to be communicated to press by prosecutor's Office Med Her email.

The highly polarized parliamentary election set for December 21 is shaping up as a plebiscite between Catalans who support secession and those who favour remaining in Spain.

Whatever decision is made on Monday, two appeals will be possible and a final ruling could well only come only after the vote.

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