Catalan lawmakers testifying in separatist rebellion probe
Madrid: Six Catalan lawmakers were testifying on Thursday before a Spanish judge over claims that they ignored Constitutional Court orders and allowed an independence vote in Catalonia's regional parliament.
The Catalan parliament's speaker, Carme Forcadell, was the first to be questioned by Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena and two prosecutors. Together with five other members of the parliament's governing body, she faces possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.
Under Spanish law, the crimes are punishable with up to 30 years of imprisonment.
The judge is set to decide after questioning them if any preventive measures, including ordering them to be taken into custody, are to be applied while the investigation continues.
The October 27 independence declaration in the Catalan parliament was boycotted by most opposition lawmakers but held despite previous court rulings. It was passed by 70 votes to 10 in the 135-seat legislative body.
Shortly after, Spain's central authorities seized control of the wealthy northeastern region, making it the first time in four decades since the end of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship that Madrid removed powers from any of the country's 17 regions.
Spain removed the regional government, dissolved the parliament and called a new regional election for December 21.
Catalonia's deposed regional president, Carles Puigdemont, and four of his dismissed Cabinet members fled to Brussels, where they are fighting Spanish arrest and extradition orders.