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Ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont said he does not plan to avoid legal proceedings launched by Spanish prosecutors on Monday but that he has no plans to return to Spain until he is “given guarantees” that he will receive fair treatment.
Speaking at a packed press conference in Brussels today, he said that he and the former ministers of the Catalan government with whom he had traveled to the Belgian capital would return to Spain immediately if they were guaranteed a “fair” and “independent” trial with “a separation of powers.”
Puigdemont, who continues to consider himself the premier of the Catalan executive despite his dismissal under the application of Article 155 by Spain’s central government, said he had traveled to Brussels with his colleagues “to make clear the politicization of Spanish justice.”
“I am not here [in Belgium] to apply for political asylum, we are here to act with liberty and security,” said Puigdemont, speaking of the “threat” of 30 years in prison after Spanish state prosecutors filed formal accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds against the former premier, his ministers and members of the speakers committee of the Catalan parliament.
“The other part of the government, headed by [former] deputy premier [Oriol Junqueras] will remain in Catalonia as legitimate members of the Catalan government,” said Puigdemont.
“We have never abandoned the government. More than that, we will continue working,” he added, calling on the Catalan people to prepare “for a long road ahead.”
At the press conference, during which he spoke in Catalan, French and Spanish, the former premier also confirmed that his PDeCAT party would run in the December 21 election called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “It’s a challenge we are going to accept,” he said.
He said added that he would respect the results and called on Madrid to do the same.
Puigdemont insisted that the state that had called elections wanted to “put him in jail” for completing his electoral program. “We have a strictly European agenda here,” he said of his visit to Belgium. “We have had no other type of contact.”
During the press conference, Puigdemont was joined by seven members of his former cabinet who have also traveled to Brussels.
That concludes our live coverage for today, we'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest news.
Thanks for reading.
Here's our full story on the judge's order today to send eight former members of the Catalan government to jail.
Spanish government sources said they have no comment to make on the Audiencia Nacional’s decision to remand eight officials in custody. Sources at La Moncloa noted that the government never comments on legal decisions, Europa Press reports.
The former officials will not be sent to Soto del Real penitentiary, as was initially expected. The Interior Ministry has informed the Audiencia Nacional that the group of eight will be distributed among five different prisons, all of them in the Madrid region. These are Alcalá de Henares (Madrid I), Estremera (Madrid VII), Valdemoro (Madrid III) Navalcarnero (Madrid IV and Aranjuez (Madrid VI).
These are the former Catalan officials who will be held in pre-trial detention: left to right, starting with the top row, Oriol Junqueras, Meritxell Borràs, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Carles Mundó, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn. The last one,Santi Vila, can avoid prison if he posts bail set at €50,000.
There are expressions of dismay and tearful faces on display among supporters of Catalan independence who have gathered outside the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. The group began singing Els Segadors, the official anthem of Catalonia, and chanting “llibertat” (freedom). But mostly there is silence, Iñigo Domínguez reports.
Judge Lamela has yet to issue a decision regarding an arrest warrant for ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and other former officials who are with him in Brussels, Fernando J. Pérez reports.
To achieve independence for Catalonia, the accused, according to the judge, “made use of the population encourage acts of public insurrection, disobedience and collective resistance to the legitimate authority of the state, occupying to that effect highways, streets and public buildings and subjecting officers of the law to incessant harassment.”
The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, calls for “freedom for political prisoners” in this tweet.
“I am ashamed that in my country opponents are locked up. We don’t want independence for Catalonia, but today we say: freedom for political prisoners.”
In her writ, the judge said that the suspects’ actions were “premeditated and perfectly prepared and organized.” For over two years they systematically ignored decisions issued by the Constitutional Court in their drive for independence, wrote Judge Carmen Lamela.
Catalan parliament deputy Mireia Boya Busquets, of the CUP party, tweets:
"The legitimate government [of Catalonia] to jail. This is a fascist state. If we normalize this they will destroy us as a people. We will react for human rights and the Republic."
The judge decided that the suspects are a
flight risk because of their high incomes and the fact that other former officials who had been summoned to court on the same day instead fled to Belgium – including former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont.
The lawyer acting for former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, has tweeted a message about the judge's decision to hold the Catalan politicians in custody. "Jail for all. Feeling of great injustice. Sad day for democracy."
Barring any last-minute changes, they will be taken to Soto del Real penitentiary outside Madrid, where they will be joining
Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of two pro-independence civic associations that have actively participated in the secession process.
A Spanish High Court (Audiencia Nacional) judge ordered former deputy Catalan premier Oriol Junqueras and seven other officials to be held in pre-trial detention, after questioning them over their role in the illegal bid to secede from Spain.
The entire Catalan government was ousted on October 28 after the separatist coalition in power encouraged a vote to declare independence inside the regional assembly.
Judge Carmen Lamela has decided to hold all eight former officials in custody. They face charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.
Only Santi Vila, the former head of the Catalan business department, has evaded preventive prison, and told instead to post a bond of €50,000. Vila was the only summoned official to take questions from someone other than his own lawyer. He also resigned before the regional assembly voted on the unilateral independence declaration to underscore his opposition to it.
Nearly 2,000 Catalonia-based companies changed their registered addresses in the month of October over fears of legal and political instability.
Pimec, the main business association representing SMEs in Catalonia, said it hopes that the December 21 election will help restore “a maximum of normalcy” in the social and economic spheres. Pimec also lamented the application of “measures that were never desirable,” alluding to Article 155. The association criticized the lack of “sensitivity” and “vision” on the part of both Madrid and Barcelona in connection with the ongoing crisis, EFE reports.
Belgian prosecutors say that as soon as they receive the
European arrest warrant, they will apply the law. The federal ministry will be the recipient and thus in charge of carrying it out, according to sources familiar with the situation. Spanish diplomats in Belgium said that there have never been any problems with Belgian authorities, and that they expect full cooperation on the legal and police fronts. Puigdemont’s lawyers, particularly the Belgian attorney Paul Bekaer, have promised to try to prevent his arrest if a EU warrant comes through, Claudi Pérez reports.
The High Court public prosecutor’s request for an international arrest warrant to be issued for former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers is based on their ignoring of the judicial citation to appear in court on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds.
LATEST: The High Court public prosecutor is requesting an arrest warrant to be issued for former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont
The request submitted to the High Court judge in charge of this stage of the case also includes the former Catalan ministers Antoni Comín, Meritxell Serret, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsati.
The writ reads: “The accused Carles Puigdemont Casamajo has publicly stated his intention of not appearing in court and has requested, as have Antonio Comín and Meritxell Serret, to address the court via videolink, without offering any information about their location. In light of the foregoing, the court is called upon to order a national and international search and arrest warrant.”
That is it for our live coverage for now. We will back with all the latest developments as they happen. Thanks for reading.
What happens now that sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont failed to appear in court this morning?
This article explores the options on the table:
(Photo credit: Yves Herman, Reuters)
We are still waiting for a decision by High Court judge Carmen Lamela as to the fate of the nine members of the deposed Catalan government who appeared in her courtroom today. Prosecutors have called for pre-trial custody for eight of them while they have called for former Catalan economy chief Santi Vila to pay a bond of €50,000 to avoid preventive prison.
No measures have yet been outlined for former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and the four ex-members of the Catalan Cabinet currently in Belgium. There has been no request made for a European Arrest Warrant.
Bank of Spain says the Catalan crisis could cost the country as much €27 billion. In a new report on the risks posed by the ongoing crisis, the central bank says it could trim GDP growth by anywhere from 0.3% to more than 2.5% over the next two years. That could see the cost come in at between €3 billion and €27 billion, Antonio Maqueda reports.
Spaniards are sick of the insufferable sentiment of Anglo American superiority they have been subjected to since the October 1 referendum in Catalonia, José Ignacio Torreblanca writes.
Read the full opinion piece here:
Former Catalan economy minister Santi Vila, who resigned before the regional parliament declared independence, will have to pay bond of €50,000 if he wants to avoid preventive prison.
Spanish prosecutors have asked for pre-trial custody for the all of the former members of the Catalan Cabinet with the exception of Santi Vila, the Catalan business minister who resigned before the Catalan parliament declared independence last Friday.
Carlos Lesmes, head of the Supreme Court and of the General Council of the Judiciary, the legal watchdog, says: “When an individual fails to appear when summoned by a judge, the normal procedure in Spain and any other European Union country is to issue an arrest warrant.”
All the Catalan ex-officials who showed up at the Audiencia Nacional today have finished testifying before Judge Carmen Lamela.
The Supreme Court has granted a request made by prosecutors to assign
police surveillance to the members of the Catalan parliament’s speakers committee whose testifying date has been postponed to November 9, Jesús García reports. The move presumably aims to prevent them from fleeing Spain. Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and four other ex-cabinet members are presumed to still be in Belgium, where they secretly traveled last Monday.
Most of the Catalan ex-officials who showed up at the Audiencia Nacional spent around five minutes in front of Judge Carmen Lamela.
Santi Vila, the former head of the Catalan business department, is the only one who testified for around 45 minutes, and who took questions from someone other than his own lawyer, according to legal sources, Fernando J. Pérez reports.
Vila received no show of support from independence campaigners who traveled to Madrid, and who cheered the other former cabinet members. Vila resigned shortly before the Catalan parliament voted on the declaration of independence last Friday, as a result of disagreement with former premier Carles Puigdemont. Vila now plans to run as a candidate in the regional election set for December 21.
Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) hopes that Puigdemont will “preserve the dignity” of the Catalan government. PNV President Andoni Ortuzar said that while he hopes there will be no arrest warrant issued for the former Catalan premier, who is presumably in Belgium on the day that he was scheduled to testify in Madrid, he also trusts that Puigdemont, “aware of the dignity that comes with his position and what it represents, will do everything in his power to defend himself however he sees fit, but also in a way that preserves the dignity of the institution.” (EP)
The hearings at the Supreme Court have been
postponed to Thursday, November 9 following a request by the lawyers for the six former officials who were scheduled to testify today.
Santi Vila, the former head of the Catalan business department, showed up at the Audiencia Nacional with a different defense than the one representing the other ex-cabinet members. His attorney Pau Molins, of Molins & Silva, also represented Princess Cristina in the Nóos case.
Vila was critical of former premier Carles Puigdemont for not calling a fresh election when he had the chance, a move that would have prevented the application of Article 155 in Catalonia. Vila has since said that he plans to run as a candidate for PDeCAT in the December 21 election announced by Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy.
Only five out of the 14 members of the deposed Catalan government have failed to appear at the Audiencia Nacional: Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsati, Antoni Comín, Lluis Puig and Meritxell Serret. All of them are presumed to be in Belgium.
Former Catalan premier
Artur Mas: “There is a feeling of injustice. This should not be happening. The conflict cannot be resolved with court action, but with high-level politics.”
Carme Forcadell, the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, has arrived at the Supreme Court. She and other members of the ousted cabinet are to testify in the investigation into rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
20 Catalan politicians have been accused by prosecutors of systematically disobeying the Constitutional Court and encouraging a popular insurrection against the country’s legitimate powers in order to achieve their secessionist goals.
Good morning and welcome to this live blog where we will cover developing news in connection with the Catalan independence bid.
This concludes our live blog for today. Thanks for reading.
Vessela Tcherneva, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Bulgaria, was asked her opinion about Catalan leaders’ claim that their independence drive is similar to Slovenia’s independence in 1991 or Kosovo’s in 2008. Her reply: “For secessionists, resorting to this kind of parallel can be interesting from a political point of view, but it is deceitful.”
CUP party, whose 10 seats supported Puigdemont’s separatist coalition in government, says that the former premier’s statements in Brussels are an acknowledgement that “the Republic could not be made effective from the institutions, because there were things that had not been set up yet.” Confessing to a lack of preparedness by the separatist government, CUP deputy Mireia Boya told Catalunya Ràdio: “We see now that not everything was ready.”
Company flight from Catalonia slowing down after Spanish government announces new election. On Monday, 62 businesses changed their registered corporate addresses, compared with 140 on Friday. The total for October is 1,883, Manuel V. Gómez reports.
According to a poll conducted by the Catalan statistics bureau, the Junts Pel Sí coalition would win the December 21 election and hold on to its parliamentary majority with support from CUP, reflecting a similar outcome to the September 2015 election. The non-nationalist Ciudadanos would come in second with 25 to 26 deputies, followed by the Catalan Socialist Party (17-19), SíQueEsPot (12-14), the Popular Party (10-11) and the far-left CUP (8-9)
Spanish correspondent at today's press conference points out that Carles Puigdemont did not take questions from Spanish media today.
"Clarification: he didn't take questions from media in Spanish. There was a question from [Catalan public broadcaster] TV3."
Election calendar: The parties, federations and coalitions planning to run in the December 21 elections have until Sunday, November 5 to confirm to the electoral board who will represent them in the electoral process that has just begun in Catalonia.
In this photo from Camilo Baquero, the meeting today of former deputy premier Oriol Junqueras, and former regional ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Carles Mundó and Josep Rull.
As former regional premier Carles Puigdemont made clear today, it appears these politicians are refusing to accept their removal from their roles by the central government in Madrid.
The former Catalan regional ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Carles Mundó and Josep Rull are currently meeting in parliament after hearing the press conference given by former regional premier Carles Puigdemont. Former deputy premier Oriol Junqueras joined them later.
They will be making a statement later in the day, Camilo S. Baquero reports
The Andalusian government has today called on the former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont to "stop, for once and for all, making a global fool of himself" after stating that what he is doing in Brussels is "a complete embarrasment."
"Everything that has been happening with this separatist adventure that some want to describe as heroic and epic has turned into something simply shameful," said the spokesperson for the Andalusian executive,Juan Carlos Blanco.
According to the spokesperson, there is "nothing epic" about what is happening in Catalonia."
At the press conference, Puigdemont and the rest of the members of the regional government were wearing the pin with the emblem of the regional government that indicates their rank, and which is given to them when they take office, reports Camilo S. Baquero
Puigdemont press conference: "I'm not asking for anything from Belgian politics. [...] There are no links. There are sympathies, but these come from afar. I want to be very neutral in this," he says, before drawing the press conference to a close.
Puigdemont press conference: He says that the state that is now calling elections wants to "stick him in jail" for complying with his electoral promises. "Here we have had an agenda that is stricly European. We have not had any other kind of contacts."
Puigdemont press conference: "Everything that we will do will be based on the decisions that we took on Friday" - in reference to the independence vote in the Catalan parliament.
Puigdemont press conference:: "The chaos started on October 1 with the violence of Spain."
Puigdemont is asked if he is prepared to go to jail for 30 years.
The ex-ministers Ponsatí and Forn respond, saying that they have acted "for freedom" and in a "civic and democratic way". "The offense of rebellion is comparable with that of terrorism," says former interior minister Forn.
Puigdemont press conference: "I'm not going to pit my citizens against a wave of violence, that is not my option," he says. "We want to continue working as a government."
To the question, how long he will stay in Brussels: "It depends," as to whether he is given guarantees of a fair process, with a seperation of powers." "Then we would return immediately."
Puigdemont insists that the Catalan conflict is a European problem. "The Spanish government has decided in an illegitimate way to deprive us of our responsibilities," he says, complaining that "all the protection" from the police they previously had has been removed. "In my case it has been reduced," he adds.
Puigdemont press conference: "We want to be here as European citizens, there is no doubt abou our commitment in this respect. We will see, there are new developments every day. We have decided that the best way to express ourselves is to be here in the capital of Europe."
Puigdemont press conference: Spanish prosecutor does not have a "desire for justice" but rather a "desire for revenge."
Puigdemont press conference: "This is not a question of politics, I'm here to act with freedom and with security," he adds. He is asked under what conditions he would return to Catalonia. He answers that he is "seeking guarantees that, for the moment, are not being provided."
Puigdemont press conference: "I'm not here to request political asylum."
Puigdemont press conference: "It is in the territory of democracy where we have always won, when we have been able to put up a democratic fight we have always won. Whenever there are ballot boxes, that's where you'll find us." (Photo: A bar in Terrassa / Cristóbal Castro)
Puigdemont press conference:"We are going to work so that it is impossible for the PP, Ciudadanos and the PSOE to dismantle Catalan institutions."
"They are not going to get us to abandon our political project," says Puigdemont, who also calls on recognition for each of the ex-ministers of his government, who "have their families at the forefront of their minds," above all for the "personal efforts" they are making.
Puigdemont calls on the international community to react. He says that the Catalan people is based on the values of Europe. "I call on the people of Catalonia to prepare for a long road ahead."(Photo: Albert García)
Puigdemont press conference: "We are going to respect the results of the December 21 elections, as we have always done. I want to ask the Spanish government a question: Are you going to do the same? I want a clear commitment from the state. Is it going to respect the results or not?"
Puigdemont press conference: He announces he will support the regional elections the central government has called. "The December 21 elections are a challenge that we're going to accept."
Puigdemont press conference: He announces that he supports the unions and has called on them to do everything possible to avoid the destruction of the Catalan system.
Puigdemont press conference: "The other part of the [Catalan] government, led by the deputy premier, will continue in Catalonia as legitimate members of the Catalan government. We have never abandoned the government. What's more, we will continue working, by virtue of our strategy of non-confrontation. We are going to continue to assert that the charges are a tool of the state. We are not going to escape the action of the justice system, but we are going to tackle it politically."
Puigdemont press conference: Puigdemont says that he and his ex-ministers want to "denounce the polarization of the Spanish justice system and show the world the serious democratic deficit that exists in the Spanish state."
Puigdemont press conference: Puigdemont says that part of the Catalan government has traveled to Brussels indefinitely to draw attention to the Catalan problem in the heart of Europe and to denounce the impartiality of the justice system.
Puidemont says that the charges are an example of the "maximum belligerence of the Spanish state."
Puigdemont press conference: Puigdemont speaks about the charges brought by the state attorney. "They have not judicial validity. They are pursuing an idea and not a crime. They are calling for 30 years for each one of us."
Puigdemont press conference: "We have not forced civil servants to take a side as a collective. If this attitude has the price of delaying the Republic, we accept that," he says.
Puigdemont press conference: Now speaking in Spanish. "This government has opted to guarantee that there is no confrontation, that there will be no violence. A republic for all cannot be built from violence. [...] We cannot be dragged into a scenario that the pro-sovereignty project has rejected."
Puigdemont press conference:: "All the decisions are coherent with the values of peace."
Puigdemont press conference: He says that events forced him to adopt a working plan that prioritized "avoiding violence because peace and dialogue have always been a priority for the Catalan people and the Catalan government."
Puigdemont press conference: Speaking in Catalan, he states that on Friday evening, after receiving information of an "offensive" by the Spanish government and the charges presented by state prosecutors on Monday, the regional government decided to "prioritize prudence, security and negotiation."
Puigdemont press conference: Politician says he will supply printed version of speech to be "precise" and avoid "any confusion."
Puigdemont press conference: Former Catalan premier says he will speak in Catalan, Spanish and French. "If there are any questions in English, there's no problem," he adds.
Puigdemont starts statement with a "good morning" in a number of languages, and thanks the Press Club for hosting the press conference.
BREAKING: The Constitutional Court has suspended as a precautionary measure the unilateral declaration of independence in Catalonia.
Previous reports suggested five, but there are in fact seven former Catalan parliamentary ministers with Puigdemont in Brussels. They are: Joaquim Forn, Toni Comín, Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Serret, Meritxell Borràs, Lluís Puig y Clara Ponsatí, Claudi Pérez reports.
The presence of Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí was not known until today.
There are 150 journalists in a room with a capacity of 50 waiting for Puigdemont. More than half are from the foreign press, Álvaro Sánchez reports
Benet Salellas, former deputy from the far-left anti-capitalist CUP party, speaking on Catalan regional public TV channel TV3: "We need to be prepared for an [independence] process that lasts years."
Can former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont elude Spanish justice system from Belgium?
The politician and the five ex-ministers who are with him could ignore citations from the Spanish courts and request political asylum, but this would be very difficult to achieve within the European Union, Ana Vela Mouriz reports.
Center-right party Ciudadanos chief Albert Rivera: "In Catalonia there has been a flight of capital, a flight of deposits, a flight of companies... and now a flight of the premier," J. J. Gálvez reports
The Supreme Court has accepted the case against the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and the members of her speaker’s committee for rebellion, sedition, and misappropriation of funds.
The charges were announced on Monday by the state prosecutor, and relate to the unilateral declaration of independence that took place in the parliament on Friday.
Belgian deputy prime minister Kris Peeters to Puigdemont: “When you call for independence, it’s better to stay with your people.”
Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont is arriving at the Brussels Press Club in the midst of a press scrum
Today's editorial from EL PAÍS:
"Returning to stability – Catalonia needs to quickly recover in terms of legal security and investments"
Our stories from this morning:
Who is Paul Bekaert, the Belgian lawyer hired by Carles Puidgemont? Read our full profile here:
Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont will be speaking to the press today at 12.30pm from the Brussels Press Club, after he was not permitted to make the appearance at the Residence Palace, which belongs to the Belgian government, media outlets in Belgium report.
The Civil Guard is carrying out a simultaneous series of operations today in Catalonia to access official regional Catalan police communications the day of the illegal referendum on October 1.
The objective is to investigate the actions of the Mossos d'Esquadra, as the police force is known, on the day of the poll. Despite court instructions to stop the vote from going ahead, videos from the day show a passive attitude of the Mossos in the face of the referendum.
While we await the appearance of Puigdemont, here is a catch-up of today's news so far:
- The websites of the Catalan regional government and the presidency have been deactivated. The pages where the roles of the now-deposed government offer users an error message. The central government in Madrid has taken control of the region's powers of self-government after invoking Article 155 of the Constitution, in response to the unilateral declaration of independence on Friday.
- Today at 6pm an extraordinary meeting of the Spanish Cabinet will take place, to approve the organization of regional elections in Catalonia on December 21.
Hello and welcome to our live blog of the ongoing Catalan crisis. We are currently awaiting the appearance of former regional premier Carles Puigdemont at a press conference in Brussels.
That concludes our live blog for today, we will be back with all the latest news tomorrow morning.
Thanks for reading.
Expectation at the Catalan goverment's office in Brussels. Journalists from a number of different media outlets are outside the "embassy" waiting for any kind of moment.
This tweet from The Telegraph's correspondent, James Crisp.
Government sources believe that the circumstances for former regional premier Carles Puigdemont and five of his ex-ministers to be granted asylum in Belgium do not exist.
1. Because the ex-premier’s situation does not fit within the requirements of diplomatic asylum, given that this legal concept does not exist within Europe.
2. Given that the concept of territorial asylum cannot be used between European Union states.
3. Due to a potential incident between Spain and Belgium. Despite the previous two points, there is a protocol that would allow an EU state to unilaterally decide to grant asylum to a national from another member state. This would cause considerable controversy between both states, as it would disregard the essential principle of mutual confidence between EU member states.
Claudi Pérez, the EL PAÍS Brussels bureau chief, tweets:
"The New Flemish Alliance [N-VA] says that it has not invited Puigdemont, who will be in a safe place in Brussels together with his five [ex-]ministers.
"If he requests asylum, there will be a whole Belgian-Spanish mess in the EU. The Belgian government is led by a liberal (Charles Michel), who needs the N-VA."
Former Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo has said today that the current prime minister, Charles Michel, must give “explanations about the likely visit of Puigdemont’s delegation to Brussels.” He tweeted that “the international credibility of Belgium” depends on it.
Spain’s Ibex 35 stock exchange has closed up 2.44% today, in the first day of trading after regional elections were announced for December in Catalonia. It marks the second biggest rise in the month so far.
Ukraine and Spain have expressed their mutual support and solidarity today in the face of the secessionist movements that are affecting their territorial integrity, in reference to the cases of Catalonia and the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, EFE reports.
Speaking during his first official visit to Kiev, the Spanish foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, called for respect for the sovereignty of Ukraine at a delicate political moment. “Spain supports Ukraine, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity. I believe that we have proved this over these years during which Ukraine has been subjected to the challenge of Crimea and Donbass,” he said at a press conference after meeting with his opposite number in Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin.
The instability of the political situation in Barcelona over the last two months is having a direct impact on cultural consumption at theaters and cinemas.
Full story here:
The European Union considers a potential asylum request from the former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont to be “completely unfounded,” Miguel González reports
As EL PAÍS reporter Fernando J. Pérez points out in this tweet, the fact that former regional premier Carles Puigdemont has traveled to Belgium today - along with five other former ministers from his now dissolved government - will make it very difficult for the "two Jordis" to be released on bail.
Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders of two pro-independence associations, are currently in pre-trial custody for their role in protests that took place in Catalonia in September while the National Police and Civil Guard were carrying out searches ahead of the October 1 illegal referendum on independence.
Belgium’s commissioner for refugees and stateless persons, Dirk Van den Bulcke, has said today that for Belgium to concede asylum to another European citizen, as could be the case for the former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, there have to be “serious signs of persecution,” or that the person is at risk in their country of origin.
Head of center-right Ciudadanos party Albert Rivera tweets: “They call on citizens and civil servants to violate the law, but then they vote in secret, change the name of their assets or flee to another country.”
As well as making reference to the presence in Belgium of former regional premier Carles Puigdemont – as well as five of his ex-ministers – Rivera was also referring to the secret ballot to declare independence that took place in the Catalan parliament on Friday.
Just before the vote, regional deputies were warned by the in-house legal counsel that they could be about to commit an illegal act, prompting them to vote manually using a ballot box.
To Brussels from Marseille. Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont traveled to Brussels from the French city of Marseille, accompanied by the following five ex-ministers from his now-dissolved government: Meritxell Borràs (governance), Antoni Comín (health); Joaquim Forn (interior); Dolors Bassa (labor and social affairs) and Meritxell Serret (agriculture, farming, fishing and foodstuffs), according to news agency EFE.
The trip from Catalonia was made by car, before a flight was taken from Marseille to Brussels.
Mireia Boya of the far-left anti-capitalist CUP party is calling on the deposed regional government to take “Republican action.”
She stated that an executive committee should be formed to sign the first decrees – “From Brussels or from wherever,” Camilo S. Baquero reports.
Former regional premier Carles Puigdemont and at least four of his former ministers are reportedly in Belgium, where, according to various press reports, they may be trying to request political asylum.
The far-left anti-capitalist CUP party, whose votes were essential for the Catalan independence declaration in the region’s parliament on Friday, has today called for the “maximum amount of disobedience possible” in terms of the application of Article 155, which is the clause in the Constitution that has been invoked by the central government in Madrid in order to take control of the region’s affairs.
The CUP has called on workers and local councils to refuse to comply with the measures taken by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “The country needs transparency and someone has to explain to us what are the plans of the [regional] government. There is uncertainty on the streets.” Camilo S. Baquero reports.
The Spanish government has called on the Constitutional Court to urgently annul the declaration of independence that was approved in the Catalan parliament on Friday.
According to the executive, the motion “has clear juridical, binding effects.”
As such the government has called on the court to go further than just a “mere declaration of annulment,” but considers it necessary for there to be “the greatest clarity and forcefulness possible” against the “most serious attack against constitutional order.” (News agency EFE reports)
Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont traveled to Brussels today along with five of his former ministers, where they are planning to request political asylum, according to Spanish TV channel La Sexta and the daily El Periódico, although EL PAÍS has yet to confirm this information.
According to El Periódico, Puigdemont is in Belgium with Meritxell Borràs (PDECat); Toni Comín (ERC); Joaquim Forn (PDECat); Treball i Afers Socials, Dolors Bassa (ERC) and a fifth member of the deposed regional government.
The Popular Party tweets from its official account that the possibility of the party running in coalition with the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Ciudadanos at the December 21 regional elections in Catalonia has been ruled out.
The Interior Ministry is working towards a return to normality. Its minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has conveyed to Ferran López his gratitude for having taken over the role of chief of the Catalan regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. The minister also expressed his desire and the police chief’s obligation to see that the situation returns to normality in Catalonia, so that the December 21 polls can go ahead in a climate of calm and with total respect for the rule of law.
RECAP: Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont is in Brussels, on the day that the state prosecutor announced that he will be facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds.
On Sunday, the Belgian secretary of state for asylum and migration, Theo Francken, sparked controversy after opening the door to granting Puigdemont asylum. This offer was later denied by the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel.
Another confirmation for the December 21 regional elections: the PdeCAT party will be running. PdeCAT is the party of former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, who was removed from his role on Friday by the central government. The party made up the Junts pel Sí coalition along with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), which also said today it would be running in the upcoming polls. "Mr Rajoy, we'll see you at the polls," said Marta Pascal, the PdeCAT general coordinator at a press conference, Camilo S. Baquero reports.
Earlier this morning, former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont posted a photo on his instagram account with the message "Good morning." The image appeared to have been taken inside the Palau seat of government.
However, it has since emerged that Puigdemont is in Brussels, suggesting that the photo was posted in a bid to sow confusion.
Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont is in Brussels today, according to sources close to the central government.
Catalan Republican Left (ERC), which forms part of the Junts pel Sí coalition, has stated today that it will be running in the December 21 regional elections.
The crime of rebellion is considered the more serious form of sedition and carries with it a prison term of 15 to 25 years,
Fernando J. Pérez reports.
It is reserved for those who rise up “violently and publicly” to “repeal, suspend or modify, partly or in full, the Constitution” or who “declare independence of part of the national terrority.”
This was, for example, the crime applied to the Civil Guard and military personnel who participated
in the failed coup of 1981.
Here’s a recap on the crime of sedition, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence in Spain:
The full list of names in the state prosecutor’s formal accusation is as follows:
1) Members of Catalan government:
Former premier Carles Puigdemont, Ex-deputy premier Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turul, Raül Romeva, Antoni Comín, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Borràs, Clara Ponsatí i Obiols, Joaquim Forn, Lluís Puig i Gordi, Carles Mundó, Santiago Vila and Meritxell Serret.
2) Members of the speaker’s committee:
Carme Forcadel (speaker), Lluís María Corominas, Lluis Guinó, Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet and Joan Josep Nuet i Pujals.
A total of 20 people are named in the state prosecutor's official accusation.
This includes the 14 members of the Catalan government headed by former regional premier Carles Puigdemont, and six members of the speaker’s committee including the speaker, Carme Forcadell.
Former economy minister Santi Vila is also named despite the fact that he resigned from the regional parliament when Puigdemont failed to call regional elections last week.
The state prosecutor's office has not made any statement on whether any of the Catalan politicians named in the legal action will be subject to precautionary measures, including being remanded in custody.
The office said this issue would be looked at when these people appeared in court and any decision would be based on “the serious of the deeds” being investigated.
Spanish State prosecutor José Manuel Maza has explained that former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and his deputy, as well as the ministers sacked via the application of Article 155 in the Catalonia will be the subject of High Court action as they no longer benefit from the legal protection afforded serving politicians.
Other politicians who remain in office and who facilitated the declaration of independence of last week will face action in the Supreme Court.
Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and his deputy, Oriol Junqueras, are the first two names to appear in the prosecutor’s document outlining the formal accusations of rebellion, sedition, misappropriate of funds against pro-independence leaders in Catalonia.
The full document (in Spanish) is available here:
Spanish State Prosecutor José Manuel Maza has announced the bringing of legal action against the politicians responsible for the declaration of independence in Catalonia last Friday.
They will be investigated for rebellion, sedition, misappropriate of funds and other related crimes by the Supreme Court and the High Court.
The government of Japan has also come out in support of Madrid’s application of Article 155 in Catalonia, expressing confidence that the crisis can be solved in a “peaceful way” in line with Spanish law.
Key members of Spain’s ruling Popular Party have expressed their concern over the fact that sacked Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont will, in theory, be able to stand for office in upcoming Catalan elections.
“I don’t know of a political who has committed so many illegal acts. I would be surprised if he could stand [in the elections of December 21],” said Galician Premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
“I would like to see Puigdemont barred from office,” said Madrid Regional Premier Cristina Cifuentes.
Both were speaking before a meeting of the national executive committee of Spain’s ruling Popular Party being held today.
Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido has affirmed that normality is “the order of the day, luckily” in Catalonia today after the application of Article 155, Spanish news agency Europa Press reports.
Speaking during his arrival at a meeting of the national executive committee of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, he expressed his confidence that things will continue in this way until “total institutional normality” is restored in the region.
A reminder: Using Article 155, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for regional elections to be held in Catalonia on December 21. This will make for a busy Christmas period in the region, particularly if results are not conclusive.
The State Prosecutor is set to make a public appearance at 12.30, reports Fernando J. Pérez.
The public ministry is today expected to bring action against former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont for “rebellion” in the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s High Court.
Meanwhile, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell is expected to be the subject of proceedings in the Supreme Court for her role in facilitating the vote calling for the calling of an independent Catalan republic.
“Inevitable and undesirable.” That is how Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has described the situation in Catalonia, criticizing the “failed politics” of Madrid and Catalonia.
Asked in council where she stood on the issue, the left-wing mayor said she backed Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over the application of Article 155. She said the move was “inevitable” after the Catalan parliament committed the “totally illegal” move of declaring independence. Photo credit: Kike Para.
Bankia managing director José Sevilla has admitted that there were “various moments” in October when clients expressed a “certain level of concern” over the situation in Catalonia. He said some clients had asked for accounts to be opened outside of the region, but did not specify how many, Europa Press reports.
He said things had calmed down in the last two weeks and rejected claims the bank had engaged in unfair competition by taking advantage of the difficulties faced by banks in the region with a higher profile.
The banks La Caixa and Banco Sabadell both changed their registered addresses in October over concerns about ongoing uncertainty in the region.
The executive committee of the pro-independence Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) – the party of sacked regional premier Carles Puigdemont – is meeting today. Former premier Artur Mas, instrumental in the non-binding Independence referendum of 2014 in the region, and former business minister Santi Vila have already arrived at party HQ.
Vila resigned from office last week after Puigdemont announced he would not be calling regional elections, a decision that paved the way for the regional parliament to unilaterally declare independence on Friday.
The Spanish economy grew 0.8% from July to September, according to preliminary figures from the national statistics institute, the INE.
That is just down from 0.9% GDP growth registered in the previous quarter, and means year-on-year growth is at 3.1%, and in line with government and Bank of Spain forecasts for the end of the year.
It is now unlikely that the Spanish economy will grow less than 3% in 2017, even if the Catalan crisis affects investment and consumption in the last three months of the year,
Antonio Maqueda reports (photo by Albert García).
None of the former Catalan ministers sacked because of the application of Article 155 in the Spanish region has an official act in their diaries today,
Camilo S. Baquero reports.
ANALYSIS: The crisis in Catalonia has demonstrated that Iberian stereotypes persist in foreign media outlets.
Read the full story here:
The scene at the
Catalan department of internal affairs: former chief Joaquin Forn nowhere to be seen here on Monday morning. At 9.40am, the former secretary general, Cèsar Puig, showed up, said goodbye to a janitor and walked out again without carrying any personal belongings. He said that he does not consider himself sacked, because he was not removed by the government that appointed him, Clara Blanchar reports.
The decision of Josep Rull i Andreu to leave his office came after the Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned former Catalan ministers they would be committing a crime if they entered their office with the aim of working after the application of Article 155.
The former Catalan chief of territorial affairs, Josep Rull i Andreu, has now left his office. He departed at 10am, just 45 minutes after he tweeted a picture of himself at his desk with the message: “At my desk, carrying out the duties that I was tasked with by the people of Catalonia.”
Catalan department chiefs who were removed from their posts as part of the measures included in Article 155 may go to the office on Monday to pick up their personal effects. “They will do so in the company of a Mosso (member of the Catalan police force), and if they refuse to leave, officers have been instructed to file a report with the judge and prosecutor,” according to sources at the Spanish Interior Ministry, Óscar López-Fonseca reports.
The day begins with some good news: the blue-chip Ibex 35 index opened with gains of 1.5%, after losing 1.4% on Friday. Shares in CaixaBank added 4%.
Good morning and welcome to this live blog covering the Catalan crisis.
That concludes our live blog of another extraordinary day in Spanish politics. We will be back tomorrow morning with the latest news.
Thanks for reading
SUMMARY: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called elections in the Catalan region for December 21, after having removed the regional premier and his government from their roles. The Catalan parliament has been dissolved. All of these measures have been taken under Article 155 of the Constitution, the invocation of which was approved today by the Spanish Senate.
Rajoy: "We never wanted to reach this situation"
Rajoy: "This is not about suspending self-government, but returning it to normality as soon as possible, a normality that starts with the law and returning the law to the Catalans."
Rajoy: "Puigdemont had the chance to call elections and now the government is calling elections in Catalonia to give Catalans back their voice."
Spanish PM Rajoy announces the dissolution of the Catalan parliament, announces Dec 21 date for new elections
Another measure announced by Rajoy: The closure of the Catalan embassies that had been opened abroad
Rajoy: "This has been an unacceptable sequestration. Now, prudence and calm."
As expected, Rajoy announces that regional premier Carles Puigdemont and all of his government will be removed from their roles.
Mariano Rajoy explains how Article 155 will be applied. He is reading a prepared statement. "The Spanish are living through a sad day in which foolishness has prevailed over the law"
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy begins address.
Spanish PM Rajoy due to make a statement at 8.15pm to explain measures adopted by the Cabinet on Article 155 of the Constitution
European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, reacts to events in Catalonia today saying that Europe "does not need more fractures."
German government also comes out in support of Rajoy government, and rejects unilateral independence declaration, Ana Carbajosa reports.
Barcelona municipal police say there are around 17,000 people around the Plaza de Sant Jaume and nearby streets.
Spain's King Felipe VI has suspended his trip to Valencia scheduled for Monday given the extraordinary situation sparked by the declaration of independence in Catalonia.
The business community rejects the "illegal" decision made today by the Catalan parliament
Spain's main business association, the CEOE, has "roundly" rejected the "illegal" decision of the Catalan parliament to unilaterally proclaim independence in the region, given that it "is a serious breaking of the law."
Statement from Scotland on Catalonia:
Culture Secretary comments.
Speaking following events in Catalonia today, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:
"We understand and respect the position of the Catalan Government. While Spain has the right to oppose independence, the people of Catalonia must have the ability to determine their own future. Today’s Declaration of Independence came about only after repeated calls for dialogue were refused.
"Now, more than ever, the priority of all those who consider themselves friends and allies of Spain should be to encourage a process of dialogue to find a way forward that respects democracy and the rule of law. The imposition of direct rule cannot be the solution and should be of concern to democrats everywhere.
"The European Union has a political and moral responsibility to support dialogue to identify how the situation can be resolved peacefully and democratically.”