Judge Orders Jail for Dismissed Catalan Ministers

Judge Orders Jail for Dismissed Catalan MinistersJudge Orders Jail for Dismissed Catalan Ministers

A Spanish judge has ordered that eight dismissed Catalan ministers be jailed while they are investigated on potential charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement.

The order was issued on Thursday after state prosecutors, who are investigating the leaders over their involvement in the breakaway region’s declaration of independence, requested the ministers be held, Al Jazeera reported.

Mireia Boya Busquets, a Catalan MP from the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy party, tweeted “the legitimate government is in prison. This is a fascist state. If we normalize it, we erase ourselves as a people”.

Among those jailed without bail are sacked Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, former spokesperson for the government of Catalonia, former minister of the workforce, Dolors Bassa, and others.

The only former minister who may be released is Santi Vila, the former head of the ministry of business, pending a 50,000 euro ($58,300) bail payment.

Meanwhile, a state prosecutor requested that the national court issue a European-wide arrest warrant on Thursday for removed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four other sacked ministers.

Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, Puigdemont’s Catalan lawyer, tweeted that it was a “grand injustice” and a “sad day for democracy”. The Belgian attorney general told Spanish news agency, Efe, that if his office receives a warrant for Puigdemont, the “law will be applied”.

“If we receive [the warrant], we won’t be able to make more comments or conjectures,” he said. Puigdemont remains in Brussels along with four of his former ministers.

  A Bridge Too Far

Meanwhile, the premier of Belgium’s Flanders region, which has itself seen separatist frictions in the past, denounced Spanish authorities on Friday for arresting sacked separatist Catalan officials and urged the EU to mediate in the dispute.

“Locking up democratically elected leaders is more than a bridge too far,” Flanders Premier Geert Bourgeois said in a statement.

“I‘m perplexed that something like that is possible in today’s Europe.”

Flanders, home to more than half of Belgium’s inhabitants, has also seen separatist campaigning in past decades but a series of constitutional reviews has given broad autonomy to the regions and kept a lid on tensions.

Bourgeois, of Flemish nationalist party N-VA which is also part of Belgium’s federal government, called on European institutions to mediate; a proposal it has already rejected.

“Once again I‘m urgently calling on all European entities to finally take action and look for democratic solutions with both Spain and Catalonia,” he added.

The European Commission reiterated on Friday it fully respected Spain’s internal political and judicial order.


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