Spain jails pro-independence Catalan ministers

A Spanish court has sent eight sacked Catalan ministers to jail for their role in the region’s declaration of independence.

A Spanish prosecutor asked a judge Thursday to issue an international arrest warrant for the former president of Catalonia and four of his ministers after they failed to appear in a Madrid court for questioning about their efforts to break the region away from Spain.

Meanwhile, the same judge, Investigative Magistrate Carmen Lamela, sent eight former Catalan Cabinet members to jail without bail and ordered another to be held pending a 50,000 euro ($58,300) bail payment.

The ruling was made at the request of prosecutors after the nine were questioned at the National Court in Madrid.

Also Thursday, six Catalan lawmakers appeared for a parallel session in the Spain Supreme Court. They were given a week to prepare their defenses and instructed to return for questioning on Nov. 9.

In all, 20 regional politicians are being investigated on possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement for a declaration of secession the Parliament of Catalonia made on Oct. 27. The crimes are punishable by up to 30 years in prison under Spanish law.

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his 13-member Cabinet were among those summoned to Spain’s National Court for questioning. Puigdemont surfaced in Belgium on Tuesday with some of his ex-ministers, saying they were seeking “freedom and safety” there.

Puigdemont’s No. 2, former Vice President Oriol Junqueras, was the first to arrive Thursday at the National Court. He went in accompanied by lawyers, passing by dozens of journalists, and declined to answer questions.

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