BARCELONA: Protests erupt as Spanish court jails 5 Catalan leaders

BARCELONA: Protests erupt as Spanish court jails 5 Catalan leaders

BARCELONA: Protests erupt as Spanish court jails 5 Catalan leaders

At least 20 people were injured as police used riot batons to keep protesters away.

Five separatists were remanded in custody yesterday, including Jordi Turull, a candidate to be president of Catalonia.

Dozens of Catalan secessionists will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement and disobeying the state, a court has ruled.

If he returns to Spain, Puigdemont faces up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and sedition for his part in organising an illegal referendum on secession last year.

Puigdemont, who has been in self-imposed exile in Brussels for five months and faces immediate arrest should he return to Spain, said his former colleagues had been jailed for "their ideas and their commitment", adding: "The anti-democratic Spanish state shames Europe".

Yesterday, global and European arrest warrants were issued for Puigdemont and five of his escorts who also fled the country.

"It is not right for a judge to do politics", Puigdemont said.

The decision was met with calls for demonstrations on the streets of Catalonia.

A Supreme Court judge held former Catalan parliament president Carme Forcadell and three former regional ministers alongside Turull.

Turull will be sent to the prison of Estremera, where two other Catalan leaders, Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn, are already being held.

Later on Friday, Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent said he would read a statement in support of those in prison in the parliamentary session. "Long live a Catalan Republic for all!", she said in a letter published in the Spanish media.

He did not set a date for the trial. A month later, he unilaterally declared independence, prompting Madrid to intervene in the autonomous region and call elections there in December - where the pro-independence parties once again won a bigger share of the vote than parties loyal to the Spanish crown.

Turull earned the votes of his "Together For Catalonia" group and the Republican Left, while the CUP's four members abstained.

Wild protests have erupted in the Basque region of Barcelona after a Spanish High Court detained five Catalan politicians for their role in the region's secessionist bid staged in October a year ago. The issue of independence not only has generated a conflict with Madrid but also has split Catalan society.

Opposition leader Ines Arrimadas of the Citizens party chided the separatists for not presenting a candidate free of legal problems, which the Spanish government has said is a prerequisite for it ending its takeover of Catalonia's regional affairs.

The separatist majority failed to elect a regional government in a Thursday vote.

Parliament rules say he could have a second chance to be elected on Saturday, when only a simple majority of more "Yes" than "No" votes would be required to make him Catalonia's next president.

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