Spanish court orders detention of 8 former Catalan ministers

  03 November 2017    Read: 2079
Spanish court orders detention of 8 former Catalan ministers
Spain's high court has ordered eight former ministers from Catalonia's dissolved government to be detained without bail, while the state prosecutor sought a Europe-wide arrest warrant for ousted leader Carles Puigdemont, CNN reports.
Puigdemont left Spain and appeared in Brussels on Monday, the same day Spain's state prosecutor announced he was seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against him and 13 ex-ministers.
The high court, known as the the Audiencia Nacional, summoned Puigdemont and the former ministers over their contentious independence drive, but only nine of them turned up at the session Thursday, and without Puigdemont.

The judge ordered eight be remanded in custody, while the ninth was granted bail of 50,000 euros ($58,000).

Jaume Alonso Cuevillas, the lawyer for most of the former ministers, said the decision was "politically motivated" and "disproportionate," arguing that judge could have simply seized their passports to stop them from leaving the country.

Puigdemont and the other four ministers are believed to still be in the Belgian capital. The state prosecutor in Madrid asked the court to issue national and European arrest warrants for all five.

Puigdemont's no-show was the latest act of defiance from the renegade leader, who has caused consternation in Madrid following an independence referendum on October 1, which Spain's Constitutional Court ruled illegal. The crisis came to a head last week when the Catalan Parliament declared unilateral independence.

In response, Madrid sacked Puigdemont and his government, and stripped Catalonia of its cherished autonomy.

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