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Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

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Re: Spain issued arrest warrant for Catalon leader Puigdemon

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:46 pm

Catalonia crisis: Sacked ministers held in Spanish jails

Eight sacked Catalan ministers have been remanded in custody by a Spanish high court judge over the region's push for independence.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to detain eight of the nine former regional government members who turned up for questioning in Madrid.

They are accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Prosecutors are also seeking a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

The request also covers four other dismissed Catalan ministers who did not show up in court in Madrid as requested, but have been in Belgium since Monday.

Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1 October in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.

Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for 21 December.

This came after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare the independence of the affluent north-eastern region. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.

Those detained are:

    Former Deputy Vice President Oriol Junqueras

    Former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn

    Former Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva

    Former Justice Minister Carles Mundó

    Former Labour Minister Dolors Bassa

    Former Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull

    Former Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull

    Former Culture Minister Meritxell Borras

A ninth official, ex-Business Minister Santi Vila, was granted bail at the request of prosecutors. He resigned before the Catalan parliament voted for independence last Friday.

Catalan political parties and civic groups condemned the judicial move, while thousands of people gathered outside the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, demanding that they be freed.

In a statement broadcast on Catalan TV from an undisclosed location in Belgium, Mr Puigdemont described the detention of the eight ex-ministers as "an act that breaks with the basic principles of democracy".

He added: "I demand the release of the ministers and the vice-president."

Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court. Their hearings have been postponed until 9 November.

Mr Puigdemont, who was spotted in a Brussels cafe on Thursday, has said he will not return to Spain unless he and four of his fellow sacked colleagues receive guarantees of a fair trial. He did not specify his exact demands.

Belgium's federal prosecutor has said the law will be applied once an arrest warrant is received, according to Efe news agency.

Mr Puigdemont's lawyer said the climate was "not good" for him to appear in court, but he also said his client would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium.

The man who wants to break up Spain

In addition to Mr Puigdemont, prosecutors have asked Spain's high court judge to issue European arrest warrants for the following Catalan officials:

    Meritxell Serret, former agriculture minister

    Antoni Comín, former health minister

    Lluís Puig, former culture minister

    Clara Ponsatí, former education minister

EU arrest warrant: What happens next?

If Spain's high court judge issues a warrant, a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) will be sent to Belgian prosecutors, who have 24 hours to decide whether the paperwork is correct. If they do, they then have 15 days to arrest Mr Puigdemont and the four others. If one or all of them appeals against it, that process could last another 15 days.

Belgium has a maximum of 60 days to return the suspects to Spain after arrest. But if the suspects do not raise legal objections, a transfer could happen within a few days.

A country can reject an EU arrest warrant if it fears that extradition would violate the suspect's human rights. Discrimination based on politics, religion or race is grounds for refusal. So are fears that the suspect would not get a fair trial.

There is an agreed EU list of 32 offences - in Article Two of the EAW law - for which there is no requirement for the offence to be a crime in both countries. In other words, any of those offences can be a justification for extradition, provided the penalty is at least three years in jail.

However, neither "sedition" nor "rebellion" - two of the Spanish accusations against the Catalan leaders - are on that list.

..................................................

Mr Puigdemont's handling of the crisis has drawn criticism among some other Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticising him for creating "yet more bewilderment".

Spain's central bank warned on Thursday of the "significant risks and economic costs" resulting from the crisis, and that Catalonia's economy could fall into recession.

Early numbers suggest that the vital tourism sector of the region has already been affected by the ongoing uncertainty.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41850094
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Re: Spain issued arrest warrant for Catalon leader Puigdemon

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Re: Spain issued arrest warrant for Catalon leader Puigdemon

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:42 am

750,000 protesters descend on Barcelona
demanding release of jailed separatist leaders


Hundreds of thousands of Catalan independence supporters clogged central Barcelona on Saturday to demand the release of separatist leaders held in prison for their roles in the region's banned independence drive.

Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders' families made speeches.

Catalonia's two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan "Freedom for the political prisoners", after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month.

Barcelona's police said that 750,000 people attended the rally. The protest is seen as a test of how the independence movement's support has fared since the Catalan government declared independence on 27 October, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire its members, dissolve the regional parliament and call new elections for December.

"Look at all the people here," said 63-year-old Pep Morales, who was confident separatist parties would win in the 21 December election. "The independence movement is still going strong."

Many of the families, young people and pensioners there had travelled from across Catalonia to attend the march. They carried photos with the faces of those in prison and waved the red-and-yellow striped Catalan independence flag.

The Spanish High Court has jailed eight former government members, along with the leaders of the grassroots groups the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, while investigations into their roles continue.

The court last week issued arrest warrants on charges of rebellion and sedition for ex-regional president Carles Puigdemont, who flew to Brussels after being deposed, and four other former government members who went with him.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court released on bail the Catalan parliament's speaker Carme Forcadell and four other lawmakers, who enabled the declaration of independence by overseeing a parliamentary vote. Another lawmaker was released without bail.

Ms Forcadell was released after agreeing to renounce any political activity that went against the Spanish constitution, according to the court's ruling, in effect banning her from campaigning for independence in the December election.

Those terms threaten to undermine the independence movement just as cracks are starting to appear and tensions rise between the grassroots and their leaders.

The PDeCAT party of Mr Puigdemont has failed to agree on a united ticket to contest the election with another secessionist party, denting the pro-independence camp's hopes of pressing ahead with its bid to split from Spain after the election.

On Saturday, the separatist Esquerra Republicana party said the ousted Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, one of those in jail, would be its candidate in December and would campaign from behind bars.

Pepita Sole, a 61-year-old pensioner in the crowd on Saturday draped in a flag, said she understood the independence declaration was symbolic but now wanted the real thing.

"They better understand that we're not faking," she said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 50116.html
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Re: Catalonia: 750,000 protesters demand release of leaders

PostAuthor: Benny » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:54 pm

A Spanish arrest warrant for the Catalan leaders has now been withdrawn:


http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/05/europ ... index.html

/B

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Re: Catalonia: 750,000 protesters demand release of leaders

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:51 pm

Benny wrote:A Spanish arrest warrant for the Catalan leaders has now been withdrawn:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/05/europ ... index.html

/B

Thank you for the update Benny - I had almost forgotten Carles Puigdemont and his friends :ymapplause:

The Spanish supreme court has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for the ousted president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failure of his attempt to secure independence for the autonomous Spanish region following a referendum on October 1. The referendum had been ruled illegal.

Judge Pablo Llarena, who is in charge of the case, also withdrew warrants for the arrest of four other Catalan politicians who fled Spain with Puigdemont: Antoni Comin, Lluis Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsati.

The decision does not mean that Puigdemont, who faces charges of rebellion, would not be arrested if he returned to Spain, where he is still wanted by judicial authorities.

Campaigning began Tuesday in Catalonia for fresh regional elections on December 21.

On Monday, a Belgian court said it would rule on December 14 whether to extradite Puigdemont whilst a court in Spain decided to keep the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and three other senior Catalan politicians in jail on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

According to the statement released by the Spanish court, Llarena argued that the European warrant would complicate the overall probe into Catalan leaders.

He said under European law the Belgian court could reject some of the reasons behind the warrant, which could possibly limit the charges brought against Puigdemont and the four others and create inequalities with Catalan leaders on trial in Spain.
It was not immediately clear if Puigdemont would remain in Belgium or return to Spain to face charges there.


Sadly, a great many so-called leaders stir things up in their own country and then run away leaving others to face the consequences X(
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Benny » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:33 am

"Sadly, a great many so-called leaders stir things up in their own country and then run away leaving others to face the consequences."

So true! Well put!

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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:34 am

Catalonia’s New Conflict Echoes in the Halls of an Old Prison

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Catalonia is no stranger to political strife. The Spanish government’s clampdown on the northeastern region’s independence drive is only the latest conflict to visit Catalans.

And if there is one place where the archaeology of those many conflicts can be uncovered, it is in the cells of the Modelo, a century-old prison in the heart of Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital.

The Catalan authorities closed the prison in June, but as the most recent political conflict intensified, they have been highlighting its history.

After the Modelo was emptied of its last prisoners, it was host to an exhibition curated by Agustí Alcoberro, a historian who is also one of the main separatist leaders of Catalonia.

The exhibition attracted over 80,000 visitors between July and the end of November, when it closed. But it also received some severe criticism for its attention to famous prisoners who fit Catalonia’s history of separatism and social upheaval, rather than others.

“Over all, its account is grotesque, tendentious and regrettable,” wrote Francesc Valls, a journalist, in the newspaper El País.

Mr. Alcoberro himself entered the Modelo as a 16-year-old activist in 1975, by which time he had already joined a clandestine separatist group. He was released at the end of that year, a month after the death of Spain’s dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco, and later benefited from Spain’s political amnesty law of 1977.

“It’s worth remembering that Spain is a country where neither Franco nor any other leader has ever admitted to having political prisoners,” he said.

Such comparisons have rankled Spain’s government and most mainstream parties, who insist that the 20 Catalan separatist politicians accused of rebellion — some of whom have been remanded in custody — are being prosecuted for violations of Spain’s Constitution.

Long before Carles Puigdemont and other separatist leaders sought to secede from Spain in recent months, Catalonia played a central and often turbulent part in Spanish politics.

Much of this history of political upheaval led to the cells of the Modelo, which has been “the mirror of the social and political conflicts of Catalonia in the 20th century,” said Joan B. Culla, a Catalan historian.

While several generations of activists and politicians were imprisoned for their beliefs, the Modelo was also sometimes their safe haven, protecting them from the greater violence outside, particularly during the Spanish Civil War, Mr. Culla said.

Opened in 1904 on a plot of land that was at the time on the outskirts of Barcelona, the Modelo was designed to be just that: a model center for preventive detention. Each of its 800 prisoners was meant to have his own cell within an asterisk-shaped building with a circular center, allowing guards to see all the way down each wing from a central surveillance post.

But Barcelona’s rapid expansion left the Modelo occupying two blocks of a residential district. As the city turned into a hotbed of political and labor conflicts, the Modelo overflowed with inmates, from violent criminals to trade unionists, anarchists, communists and revolutionary intellectuals.

During the Civil War of the 1930s, the Modelo received over 13,000 inmates. Many were supporters of Franco’s 1936 military coup, which failed in Barcelona and Madrid, even as Franco’s soldiers made rapid headway in other parts of Spain.

When Franco finally won the war three years later, some of his Modelo supporters became important figures in his regime.

Among them was Santiago Udina Martorell, a politician who helped oversee Barcelona’s economic development in the 1960s.

Another right-wing politician, Josep Maria de Porcioles, was also detained in the Modelo before the war. He became Barcelona’s longest-serving mayor under Franco.

Franco, for his part, replenished the Modelo with his own political opponents, as well as with gays and some artists whose work contravened the Catholic dogma of his regime.

In a curious twist, the prison’s own chaplain commissioned Helios Gómez Rodríguez, an anarchist painter and poet, to turn his cell into a chapel, with a painted fresco of a Gypsy Virgin surrounded by black angels. (Most of the fresco was later whitewashed.)

Cell No. 443 was that of Salvador Puig Antich, the last political activist executed by Franco’s regime, in March 1974. He was garroted in a room where parcels were delivered to the prison.

As soon as Franco died, the Modelo was seen as unworthy of a new Spain, an unwanted symbol of a crowded and unhealthy prison system that Spain’s restored democracy promised to overhaul.

A proposal to close the prison was made in 1977, two years after Franco’s death, by Spain’s prime minister at the time, Adolfo Suárez. The Modelo by then had become the scene of major revolts, exacerbated by widespread heroin use among inmates.

However, it took another 40 years for politicians to fulfill pledges to close the Modelo. In June, the Catalan authorities transferred the last inmates to other penitentiaries.

Next month, Barcelona’s city government is set to take over the premises. Nearly 5 million euros have been earmarked to transform the Modelo into housing units, as well as a public park and a new historical memorial.

The project could take years — and perhaps spark a new round of controversy.

Joan Queralt, a professor of criminal law at the University of Barcelona, said he hoped the memorial would be designed as “a museum denouncing the kind of prisons that we’ve kept going for so long, marked by poverty and violence, rather than only about Catalan political resistance.”

For now, the closing of the Modelo requires the relocation of about 550 staff members to other Catalan prisons.

In an upstairs gallery, a group of cleaners on their morning break said they worried about finding another job because, unlike most other workers, they were hired by an outside contractor.

Since the last inmates left in June, a dozen cleaners have been sweeping empty cells, which means “less work but also less satisfaction,” said Shirley Chávez, a cleaner.

“It might sound weird, but I felt more useful when I was sometimes wiping away blood and vomit,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/worl ... oners.html

It would seem that Catalonia is still recognized as an almost independent entity :-?
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:39 am

Spanish court orders seizure of ex-Catalan leader's home

Spain's Court of Auditors ordered the seizure of former Catalan president Artur Mas's home to cover costs generated by the nonbinding independence referendum his government organised.

In September the court had ordered Mas and eight other top Catalan officials to pay 4.8 million euros ($5.6 million) with interest of 400,000 euros to cover the expenses of the ballot, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court.

But they have managed to pay just 2.9 million euros so far, prompting the court to order the seizure of assets they had put up as a guarantee, a spokeswoman for the court said.

Besides Mas's Barcelona home, the court seized half of a home belonging to former Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs in Taradell, near the Catalan capital, the spokeswoman said.

It also seized properties belonging to three former regional ministers in Mas's government.

Mas, Catalonia's president from 2010 to 2016, has said the order to repay the costs of the 2014 referendum lacks "any kind of legal basis" and is aimed at trying to "intimidate" separatists.

His successor, Carles Puigdemont, pushed ahead with a banned independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1, which was marred by a violent police crackdown against voting, and which led the Catalan parliament to declare independence on October 27.

Spain's central government subsequently dismissed Puigdemont's government, suspended Catalonia's autonomy and called an early election in the region for December 21.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium at he end of October, fleeing charges sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds over his government's independence drive.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/worl ... cle/509824
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