Catalan parliament speaker released from custody after posting bail

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The Catalan parliament’s speaker has been released following a night in prison after posting bail, amid a rebellion investigation stemming from the Spanish region’s declaration of independence.

A Supreme Court judge ordered the release of Carme Forcadell after the 150,000 euro (£133,000) bail was posted on Friday.

Ms Forcadell and five other Catalan political figures were quizzed by the judge on Thursday over the regional parliament’s October 27 vote to declare independence from Spain.

Carme Forcadell is driven in a car out of the Alcala-Meco prison
Carme Forcadell is driven in a car out of the Alcala-Meco prison (Francisco Seco/AP)

The judge jailed Ms Forcadell immediately, ordered four to pay 25,000 euro (£22,000) bail in one week to remain out of custody and released another who opposed the declaration of Catalonia as a separate republic.

Ms Forcadell left the Alcala Meco jail close to Madrid in an official Catalan parliament car shortly after 2pm (1pm GMT).

In his ruling, magistrate Pablo Llarena wrote that all six “have expressed that either they renounce future political activity or, those who want to remain active, will do it renouncing any actions outside the constitutional framework”.

Ms Forcadell, long one of the leading figures of the Catalan independence movement, testified on Thursday that the independence declaration was “symbolic”, according to lawyers familiar with the proceedings.

Carme Forcadell is driven in a car out of the Alcala-Meco prison in Alcala de Henares, near Madrid
(Francisco Seco/AP)

Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis told Cope radio that it “remains to be seen” if Ms Forcadell will follow Spanish laws and court rulings preventing Catalan lawmakers from unilaterally seceding.

If she does not, Mr Dastis expects the judge to consider revoking Ms Forcadell’s bail.

Carme Forcadell, in the rear seat, is driven out of the Alcala-Meco prison in Alcala de Henares, near Madrid
(Francisco Seco/AP)

Eight members of the now-defunct Catalan government remain jailed in a related rebellion case.

Former regional president Carles Puigdemont and four other ex-cabinet members fled to Belgium where they are fighting extradition.

Two other grassroots secession group leaders have also been jailed in a parallel sedition probe.

One of the two groups, the National Catalan Assembly that was formerly headed by Ms Forcadell, said it had paid her bail.

Spain’s Constitutional Court warned that the parliament’s October 27 vote declaring a new Catalan republic would be illegal. Most opposition MPs boycotted the session.

The Spanish government responded by seizing control of the wealthy north-eastern region, the first time in the four decades since General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship ended that Madrid removed powers from any of the country’s 17 regions.

Central authorities dismissed the Catalan regional president and his government, dissolved the parliament and called a new regional election for December 21.

Catalonia, with 7.5 million people, represents a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product and polls show its people roughly evenly divided over independence.

Mr Puigdemont claimed a banned October 1 secession referendum gave it a mandate to declare independence.

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