Spanish judge jails two Catalan independence leaders | News | DW | 16.10.2017
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Spain

Spanish judge jails two Catalan independence leaders

The Catalan pro-independence leaders have been accused of sedition in the run-up of a referendum. The judge said they helped organize pro-independence protests that hindered raids by national police and damaged cars.

Spanien - Separatisten Jordi Cuixart und Jordi Sanchez bleiben in Haft (Reuters/J. Barbancho)

Jordi Cuixart (left) and Jordi Sánchez (right)

A Spanish judge on Monday ordered two leaders of Catalonia's pro-independence movement remain in custody on possible charges of sedition.

Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Cuixart of the pro-independence Omnium Cultural group allegedly urged supporters to take part in protests that hindered police from carrying out raids on September 20 and 21 in the run up to a contested referendum.

Read more: Spain's Article 155: The constitution's 'nuclear option'

Spanish Judge Carmen Lamela found that the men had urged supporters to block police officers from the national Civil Guard force inside a building that they had entered on orders seize material related to the upcoming vote. The officers were trapped in the building for hours and their vehicles were vandalized, as well.

On Twitter, the Omnium Cultural decried the leaders' detention, saying mobilization against Madrid will continue, "you cannot imprison a whole people."

Meanwhile, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero also appeared in court on sedition charges for failing to direct his force to help let the besieged national police leave the building on September 20. He was released on the condition that he turn over his passports.

His deputy Teresa Laplana also appeared in court on the same charges. 

"The state is playing at provocation," Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said after the court ruling, as the two groups furiously called on the people of Catalonia to protest.

Escalating tensions

Tensions have escalated since Catalan officials advanced a referendum to determine whether Catalonia should pursue independence from Spain. However, before the controversial vote, Spain's Constitutional Court deemed the referendum illegal.

Read more: Catalan independence: What you need to know

A week after the vote, Catalan leaders said roughly 90 percent of the ballots were in favor of Barcelona declaring independence for the region of Catalonia, though less than half of eligible voters turned out, with those who oppose a break away staying home.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave Catalan President Carles Puigdemont until Thursday to specify whether he declared independence for Catalonia after the Catalan leader failed to meet a Monday deadline to clarify the region's position.

ls/rt (dpa, AP)

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