Published: Sun, March 25, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Protests in Catalonia after independence leaders detained

Protests in Catalonia after independence leaders detained

If convicted, they face 30 years in jail.

Tensions spilled over into violence as some protesters tried to break through police lines.

Twenty-four protesters were lightly injured in clashes with police, emergency services said.

Altogether 25 separatists have been charged variously with sedition, rebellion, embezzlement and other crimes.

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont left Finland before authorities could act on a Spanish arrest warrant, a Finnish MP says. All deny the allegations.

Among those charged are Catalonia's sacked president Carles Puigdemont and his designated successor, Jordi Turull.

On Friday evening, Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena ordered an worldwide arrest warrant for all six.

The woman deputizing for the jailed Junqueras as leader of the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party, Marta Rovira, was also among those indicted, but failed to appear in court on Friday, saying in a letter that she too had chose to take "the path of exile".

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Turull was one of the five politicians who responded to a court summons, only to find that Judge Llarena had chose to send them to jail, denying them bail.

Five other Catalan politicians, including Mr Puigdemont, fled to Brussels following the failed secession attempt in late October.

"Today I undertake a hard road, a path that, unfortunately, so many others that preceded us have had to take", Rovira wrote, adding: "The path of exile". An anti-establishment party's former lawmaker, Anna Gabriel, fled to Switzerland earlier this year. "Long live a Catalan Republic for all!", she said in a letter published in the Spanish media.

The protests came after the Spanish Supreme Court detained five Catalan separatist leaders, including Catalan presidential candidate Jordi Turull.

Many Catalans went to the streets after yesterday the Spanish Supreme Court made a decision to sue 25 of the former district leaders who took measures to declare the independence of the area in the autumn of a year ago.

The nationalist Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) condemned the court ruling and demanded the release of all those held in prison.

The top court ruled that there was still a risk that Joaquim Forn, the ousted Catalan Interior Minister, and Jordi Sanchez, the former president of the pro-independence civil rights group ANC, to repeat the offenses that landed them in jail.

In a setback for the pro-independence cause, a survey published by the respected Catalan Centre for Opinion Studies recently suggested support for independence had dropped sharply, with a majority of Catalans now against the idea.

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