Catalan officials released on bail as independence crisis rumbles on

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THE ex-speaker of the Catalan parliament has been granted bail after testifying that the embattled region’s unilateral declaration of independence was only symbolic.

Carme Forcadell was freed from the Alcala Meco prison near Madrid after paying €150,000 and telling a Supreme Court judge that she would respect the Spanish constitution from now on.

Four other Catalan officials were each ordered to pay €25,000 bail, while a fifth was released after questioning.

But all six remain under investigation for alleged rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Judge Pablo Llarena wrote in his ruling: “All the accused… have expressed that either they renounce future political activity or, those that remain active, will do it renouncing any actions outside the constitutional framework.”

Eight other Catalan lawmakers remain behind bars as their roles in the push for independence are probed by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s leading criminal court.

But Forcadell and her five ex-colleagues still have parliamentary immunity so their case is being handled by the Supreme Court.

Supporters have blockaded roads and railway stations in the wake of the arrests, while a Spanish judge has demanded the extradition of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four others after they fled to Belgium.

Puigdemont has been released on bail and must appear in a Belgian court on November 17 as a judge mulls over a European Arrest Warrant issued in his name.

It comes after the Catalan parliament opted to vote for independence on October 27, leading the Spanish government to sack the region’s leaders and call a snap election to take place on December 21.

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