Thu11232017

LAST_UPDATEThu, 23 Nov 2017 2am

Catalan Parliament Speaker Gets Bail But Gagged For Election Campaign

MADRID- The Catalan parliament’s speaker was to be released from prison on Friday, but the terms she agreed to in exchange for being granted bail seem likely to prevent her from campaigning on a pro-independence ticket for regional elections next month.

Carme Forcadell appeared in the Supreme Court on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, after she enabled a declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament in late October that prompted the Spanish government to take control of the region.

She was released on bail of 150,000 euros after agreeing to renounce any political activity that went against the Spanish constitution, according to the court’s ruling.

Those terms threaten to further undermine a pro-secessionist movement in which cracks are starting to appear.

Court sources had on Thursday quoted her as saying the independence declaration had not been legally binding.

Judge Pablo Llarena said the court could reconsider its ruling if it found evidence of her committing more offences -- effectively banning her from campaigning for independence for the Dec. 21 election.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election following the independence declaration, and also dissolved the Catalan parliament and fired the administration of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

Forcadell at the time described Rajoy’s actions as a “coup” and an “attack against democracy”, while Puigdemont called the declaration a major step toward establishing an independent Catalan state.

On Tuesday, the PDeCAT party of Puigdemont -- who went to Brussels after being deposed -- failed to agree on a united ticket to contest the election with another secessionist party, denting the pro-independence camp’s hopes of pressing ahead with its bid to split from Spain after the election.

The court said in statement it had received Forcadell’s bail payment and an official was en route to prison to release her.

Authorities are continue to investigate her role in Catalonia’s banned independence drive, and the court confiscated her passport and ordered her to report to judicial authorities once a week.

The court had summoned her along with five Catalan lawmakers, four of whom were released on Friday on 25,000-euro bail after surrendering their passports. The fifth was released without bail or conditions.

Eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots groups remain in prison pending a separate investigation by the High Court.

Puigdemont, who also faces charges of rebellion and sedition, is appealing against an international arrest warrant served by Spain.

A grassroots Catalan pro-independence groups, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), said it had paid Forcadell’s bail and called a protest for Saturday to demand the release of the others.

“The bank of solidarity will cover the bails for the members of parliament. You are not alone!”, the ANC said on Twitter on Thursday.

-Reuters