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Puigdemont and dismissed cabinet members summoned to court for November 2

The dismissed Catalan president and ministers are to appear in Spanish National Court on charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds

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31 October 2017 08:00 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

A Spanish high court judge accepted the suit against ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and 13 members of his government on Tuesday evening. The state attorney general had earlier filed charges against the president and his ministers for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. The judge summoned the accused to appear in court on November 2 at 9am and gave the president and his ministers three days to deposit bail of 6.2 million euros. If the bail is not paid, the former officials will have their property seized.

Summoned from Belgium

 Yet, this might not prove so easy. Currently, Carles Puigdemont and five of his government ministers removed from office are in Brussels, Belgium. They traveled there not to seek asylum, as Puigdemont explained at a press conference on October 31, but instead to “act with freedom and without threats.” This, he claimed was not possible due to “threats” from the Spanish government. Inasmuch, Puigdemont divulged that he would remain in Belgium for the time being, while about half of his dismissed government stayed in Barcelona. The ousted ministers that are still in the Catalan capital include dismissed vice president Oriol Junqueras, among others.  

The Spanish Supreme Court has already summoned the other individuals accused of the same: Parliament President Carme Forcadell, and members of the Catalan Parliament bureau. They are to appear in the Supreme Court on November 2 and 3.

Rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds

Spain’s Attorney general, José Manuel Maza, officially accused twenty people of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. This, Maza stated, was for provoking an “unconstitutional crisis” culminating in a “unilateral declaration of independence,” declared by Puigdemont and pro-independence parties and MPs after a vote in the Catalan Parliament on October 27. This was immediately followed by Madrid approving the implementation of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to seize Catalonia’s self-rule.

As per the Spanish criminal law, rebellion applies to those who “violently and publicly” try to “abrogate, suspend or modify the Constitution, either totally or partially,” or “declare the independence of part of the national territory.” The crime of rebellion carries jail sentences of up to 30 years.

“Not a rebellion crime”

Spain’s Attorney General justified the lack of concrete violence because, he stated, “rebels can never ensure that their uprising will be without victims and without bloodshed.” However, this is a contested standpoint. The former Spanish MP Diego López Garrido — responsible of drawing up the very article referring to the crime of rebellion in 1995 — told ACN that “it is necessary to demonstrate violence” to declare someone guilty of rebellion. “This is not a rebellion crime,” he concluded.

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  • Police guarding the entrance to the Spanish National Court in July 2017 (by ACN)

  • Police guarding the entrance to the Spanish National Court in July 2017 (by ACN)