Catalan leader leaves country amid warning of jail sentence
Chief prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza said yesterday that he would ask judges for preventive measures against the politicians and the governing body of the Catalan parliament that allowed a vote to declare independence last week. The warning came as regional Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont travelled to Brussels potentially seeking asylum, with uncertainty over his whereabouts last night.
Mr Maza did not specify if the preventative measures would include immediate arrest and detention before trial.
The rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges carry maximum sentences of 30, 15 and six years in prison respectively. It was not immediately clear when judges would rule on the prosecutors’ request.
Mr Maza did not name any of those facing charges, but they include Mr Puigdemont, his deputy Oriol Junqueras and Catalan parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell.The announcement came as Catalonia’s civil servants returned to work for the first time since Spain dismissed the separatist regional government and imposed direct control.
In addition to the sedition charges, Spain’s government has said the fired leaders could be charged with usurping others’ functions if they attempt to carry on working.
Mr Puigdemont’s trip to Brussels came after Belgian asylum state secretary Theo Francken said that it would be “not unrealistic” for the Catalan leader to request asylum.
Uncertainty over Mr Puigdemont’s plans continued the game of political cat-and-mouse with which he has tormented the central government.
His party yesterday indicated it was ready to fight in the 21 December early regional election called by the national government.
At least one portrait of Mr Puigdemont was still hanging on a wall inside the Catalan government’s Generalitat building.
At least one member of the ousted Catalan government defied his dismissal by showing up at work and posting a photo on Twitter from his formal office.
Spanish authorities say deposed officials will be allowed to take their personal belongings from official buildings, but are barred from performing any official duties.