3 Nov 2017

Catalonia crisis: Sacked ministers held by Madrid court

9:00 am on 3 November 2017

Eight sacked Catalan ministers have been remanded in custody by a Spanish high court judge over the region's push for independence.

Former ministers in the deposed Catalan  government arrive at court.

Former ministers in the deposed Catalan government arrive at court. Photo: AFP

Prosecutors had asked the judge to detain eight of the nine former government members who turned up for questioning in Madrid, accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The state prosecutor has requested a European arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

The deposed leader was photographed in a cafe in Brussels on Thursday while other Catalan government members appeared in court.

He had travelled to Belgium with four members of his sacked cabinet and has ignored an order to appear before the High Court to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds relating to the region's secessionist push.

Carles Puigdemont

Carles Puigdemont's lawyer said his client would stay away from Spain while the political climate was "not good". Photo: AFP

Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1 October in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.

Catalan lawmakers voted to declare the independence prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to impose direct rule, dissolve the regional parliament and call local elections for 21 December.

Mr Puigdemont's lawyer in Belgium said his client would stay away from Spain while the political climate was "not good"; but he would cooperate with the courts.

Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court which has yet to hold a hearing.

Mr Puigdemont's handling of the crisis has drawn criticism among some other Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticising him for creating "yet more bewilderment".

Spain's central bank warned on Thursday of the "significant risks and economic costs" resulting from the crisis, and that Catalonia's economy could fall into recession.

Early numbers suggest that the vital tourism sector of the region has already been affected by the uncertainty.

- BBC, Reuters

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