Fate of jailed Catalan leaders to be decided on Monday
Madrid: A Spanish Supreme Court judge will decide Monday whether or not to release 10 separatist leaders who were jailed pending a probe into their role in Catalonia's independence drive.
Any release on bail would mark a turn in the campaign for regional elections on December 21, particularly for separatist parties who have repeatedly accused Madrid of taking "political prisoners" and "repression" after their attempt to declare unilateral independence failed.
"State repression is the mobilising element of the independence movement right now," said Oriol Bartomeus, politics professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
"Once they no longer have political prisoners, they will have to change their campaign."
After questioning them on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena of the Supreme Court, in charge of the case, said he wouldn't take his decision until Monday, said a judicial source who refused to be named.
Catalonia's sacked vice-president Oriol Junqueras was the first to be questioned behind closed doors by Llarena - a meeting that lasted just 20 minutes, according to a court source.
By early afternoon, Llarena had already seen the seven other former regional ministers and was about to question the leaders of two pro-independence civic associations.
Llarena has taken on the investigation into the Catalan leaders, most of whom are accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Until last week, Spain's National Court, which takes on major criminal cases, had been in charge of the case and had sent to jail Junqueras, his former ministers and the two leaders of the pro-independence ANC and Omnium Cultural associations.
However, Llarena of the Supreme Court decided the members of Catalonia's parliament he had been investigating on similar charges could remain free as the probe continues.
Now he has taken on the probe of the other separatist leaders, they hope he will make the same decision for them.
Ester Capella, a national lawmaker for Junqueras's ERC party, said they were ready with the money if the defendants were ordered to post bail.
"We've planned everything so that they can post bail, so that they can be freed immediately," she told reporters at the Madrid court.
The jailing of separatist leaders has caused outrage in Catalonia.