Spanish prosecutors charge Catalan separatist leaders with rebellion

MADRID, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) — The Public Prosecutor at the Spanish Supreme Court on Friday charged with rebellion former Catalan deputy leader Oriol Junqueras, other senior officials and eight former members of the Catalan regional parliament, local media confirmed.

The charges are related to the Catalan independence referendum of Oct. 1, 2017, which the Spanish Constitutional Court judged to be illegal, and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence for Spain’s northeastern region on Oct. 27.

The prosecutor has asked for a 25-year prison sentence for Junqueras and, 17 years for Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of civil organizations which have campaigned for Catalan independence.

Former speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell is another who faces a 17-year prison term. Josep Lluis Trapero, former head of the Catalan regional police, has also been charged with rebellion, with the prosecutor asking for an 11-year sentence.

In total, 18 people have been charged in relation to the events of October 2017, with nine other former Catalan officials facing jail terms of up to seven years in prison and fines for offences including disobedience and the misuse of public funds.

Friday’s decision comes a day after the State Attorney, who represents the Ministry of Justice and thus the Spanish government, decided against pressing charges of rebellion, preferring to focus on a reduced charge of sedition.

The decision of the State Attorney was viewed by commentators as an attempt by the Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez to show a more conciliatory stance towards Catalonia in the hope of promoting negotiations to end the ongoing crisis and also to maintain the support of Catalan separatist parties in the Spanish Congress.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and five other former Catalan officials currently in exile in Belgium, Switzerland and Scotland have not had any charges filed against them.

Although there is no date for the trial, it is expected to begin in the New Year, by which time, Junqueras, Sanchez and Cruixart will have spent 15 months in prison.

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