Spain to file rebellion charges against Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

Carles Puigdemont during the independence vote session at the Parliament in Barcelona, Oct 27, 2017.
Carles Puigdemont during the independence vote session at the Parliament in Barcelona, Oct 27, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's public prosecutor's office will file rebellion charges next week against Catalan secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont, a spokesman said on Friday (Oct 27) after Catalonia's regional parliament voted to declare independence.

A court will then decide whether to accept the charges against Puigdemont. Under Spanish law, the crime of "rebellion" is punishable by up to 30 years in jail.

"Public prosectors will file a complaint for rebellion against Carles Puigdemont next week," a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office told AFP, adding similar lawsuits could be filed against other members of the Catalan government and parliament.

Earlier on Friday, Catalonia's regional parliament in Barcelona passed a resolution to proclaim "a Catalan republic in the form of an independent and sovereign state".

The motion was approved with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two abstentions, with Catalan opposition MPs walking out of the 135-seat chamber before the vote in protest at a declaration that is not recognised by Madrid or abroad.

In response, Spain's central government was preparing to take direct control of the semi-autonomous region.

Puigdemont, a 54-year-old former journalist, defended the vote by the assembly, saying it had received a "mandate at the ballot box" to declare independence.

Separatist parties won a slim majority of seats in the Catalan parliament for the first time during the last regional elections in September 2015 which were billed as a proxy vote for independence, despite getting less than half the vote - 47.6 per cent.

The Catalan government then pressed ahead with a referendum on independence on Oct 1 despite it having been deemed unconstitutional by the courts and Spain's central government.

The separatist leadership says voters who took part in the referendum overwhelmingly backed breaking away from Spain but turnout was just 43 per cent as Catalans in favour of remaining in Spain mostly boycotted the ballot.

 

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