Nine former members of the ousted Catalan government have been remanded in custody as the constitutional crisis resulting from Catalonia’s push for independence from Spain continues to deepen.
Spanish prosecutors have also announced they are seeking a European arrest warrant for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four other members of his government. Puigdemont is believed to be in self-imposed exile in Belgium.
The jailed officials, including Puigdemont’s deputy Oriol Junqueras, will reportedly be held in custody while being investigated on suspicion of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.
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Judge Carmen Lamela said the seven men and two women “had to be detained because they might otherwise leave the country or destroy evidence,” the ABC reports.
Puigdemont reacted angrily to the arrests in a statement broadcast on Catalan television from an undisclosed location. “Imprisoning political leaders for fulfilling an electoral commitment breaks down the basic principles of democracy,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have rallied in support of the jailed ministers, taking to the streets in Barcelona and other Catalan towns.
“Those in Barcelona held up their mobile phones like candles and waved separatist flags – red and yellow stripes with a white star – also holding black-and-yellow ‘libertad’ (‘freedom’) signs,” The Daily Telegraph reports.
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