A Belgian judge was previously expected to rule whether to extradite the ministers on December 14. The five were fighting the move, saying they may not receive a fair trial on their return.
Carles Puigdemont has previously said he would return if this was guaranteed.
On December 4, six Catalan ex-ministers being held in a prison near Madrid were released from prison on bail. However, two others, including former Catalan Vice President Orial Junqueras, were remanded in custody.
Campaigning has now officially started ahead of the new vote organized by Spanish authorities in an attempt to try and resolve the Catalonia crisis.
Carles Puigdemont labeled the election as a choice between “nation or submission” while speaking on a video link from Belgium to a rally in Barcelona on December 4.
He said voters must chose “between Catalan institutions or dark characters in Madrid”.
A seat reserved for the former leader at the event was marked with a yellow ribbon, an emblem that has become a symbol of support for the jailed politicians.
All but one of the thirteen Catalan leaders sacked by the Spanish government after the independence referendum are standing for election again in the fresh vote.
A new opinion poll, conducted by the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) in late November, suggests that pro-independence parties will fall narrowly short of an absolute majority in the December election.
Carles Puidgemont and Orial Junqueras’ pro-separatist parties are campaigning separately in the new vote, after a divide emerged over the future of the region following the nulled referendum.
The parties ran together in the 2015 election when separatist parties won an overall majority in the Catalan parliament when they won 72 seats.
Eight dismissed members of Catalonia’s regional government are facing jail over their role in October’s disputed independence referendum, Madrid prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, nine Catalan officials testified at Spain’s high court over accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Ousted Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont and four others disregarded a summons.
Carles Puigdemont, who is in Belgium, said the trial was “political”.
Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since the referendum was held on October 1 in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.
Last week, Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling snap local elections for December 21.
This came after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence of the north-eastern region.
The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favor of independence.
Prosecutors asked the high court judge to jail eight of the nine members who turned up for questioning.
Those included dismissed deputy leader Oriol Junqueras, Interior Minister Joaquin Forn, foreign affairs chief Raül Romeva and spokesman Jordi Turull.
The ninth, Catalonia’s former business minister Santi Vila, should be granted a €50,000 ($58,000) bail, prosecutors said. He resigned before the Catalan parliament voted for independence on October 27.
The Catalan leaders are yet to be formally charged. They were accused of rebellion – which carries a maximum 30-year jail term – as well as sedition and misuse of funds.
A judge will decide whether the officials should go to jail, pending an investigation that could potentially lead to a trial.
The judge can also grant them conditional bail and order them to surrender their passports.
Five dismissed Catalan officials stayed in Brussels, including Carles Puigdemont, who had previously said he would not return to Spain if he and his colleagues did not receive unspecified guarantees of a fair trial.
Reports suggest some of them requested to appear before the judges via video conference.
Carles Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer told Reuters that he would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium, but did not appear before the judges because “the climate is not good”.
The dismissed leader’s handling of the crisis has drawn criticism among some other Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticizing him for creating “yet more bewilderment”.
Meanwhile, five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court.
Their hearings have been postponed until November 9.
If those Catalan politicians appearing in court are denied bail it will cause further anger among those who want Catalonia to break away.
The court summons also gave them three days to pay a deposit of €6.2 million ($7.2 million) to cover potential liabilities.
Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puidgemont and 13 other members of his dismissed government have been summoned to appear in Spain’s high court later this week.
The court also gave them three days to pay a deposit of €6.2 million to cover potential liabilities.
The summons comes after Spain’s chief prosecutor said he would press charges including rebellion.
Carles Puigdemont is in Belgium with several former ministers. He earlier said he was not there to seek asylum.
Catalonia’s dismissed president triggered a crisis in Spain by holding an independence referendum on October 1 in the semi-autonomous region despite Madrid’s opposition and the Constitutional Court declaring the vote illegal.
Carles Puigdemont turned up in Brussels on October 30 as Spanish Attorney-General José Manuel Maza called for Catalan leaders to face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
The Audiencia National has now summoned the dismissed Catalan officials – who are yet to be formally charged – to testify on November 2 and 3. If they do not appear, prosecutors could order their arrest.
Meanwhile, the speaker of Catalan’s dissolved parliament Carme Forcadell and other former lawmakers have been summoned to the Supreme Court because they still have parliamentary immunity.
Carles Puigdemont earlier said he would return to Spain if guaranteed a fair hearing.
Several of Carles Puigdemont’s former colleagues who remain inside the country may decide to accept the summons and appear in court.
Prosecutors’ arguments against the group were “serious, rational and logical”, Judge Carmen Lamela said in a ruling, according to the AFP.
The charge of rebellion carries a maximum 30-year jail term.
Speaking at a press conference earlier on October 31, Carles Puigdemont said he was not trying to escape justice by travelling to Belgium but wanted to be able to speak freely.
Carles Puigdemont’s comments came as Spain’s constitutional court suspended the declaration of independence made by the Catalan parliament on October 27.
The former leader also said he would accept the result of snap elections in Catalonia on December 21, which were called by Spain’s central government after it invoked Article 155 of the constitution, temporarily suspending the region’s autonomy.
He told reporters: “I want a clear commitment from the state. Will the state respect the results that could give separatist forces a majority?”
Spain’s central government has previously said Carles Puigdemont is welcome to take part in the fresh polls.
Spain is prepared to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy on October 21, as its leader, Carles Puigdemont, threatened to declare independence.
The government said ministers would meet to activate Article 155 of the constitution, allowing it to take over running of the region.
Carles Puigdemont said earlier the Catalan parliament would vote on independence, backed in a disputed referendum on October 1, if Spain “continues repression”.
Some fear the moves could spark unrest.
The government statement said: “The Spanish government will continue with the procedures outlined in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore legality in Catalonia’s self-government.
“It denounces the attitude maintained by those in charge of the Generalitat [Catalan government] to seek, deliberately and systematically, institutional confrontation despite the serious damage that is being caused to the coexistence and the economic structure of Catalonia.
“No-one doubts that the Spanish government will do all it can to restore the constitutional order.”
Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution, which cemented democratic rule after the death of General Franco three years earlier, allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis but it has never been invoked.
Political leaders in Madrid and Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, have been engaged in a tense stand-off since the disputed referendum, which Catalan leaders say resulted in a “Yes” vote for independence but which Spain’s supreme court regards as illegal.
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy set the deadline of 10:00 local time for Carles Puigdemont to offer a definitive answer on the independence question, and called on him to “act sensibly”.
The prime minister said in parliament on October 18: “It’s not that difficult to reply to the question: has Catalonia declared independence? Because if it has, the government is obliged to act in one way, and if it has not, we can talk here.”
This was the second and final deadline, as Madrid says Carles Puigdemont on October 16 failed to clarify whether he had declared independence.
PM Mariano Rajoy is due to attend an EU summit in Brussels on October 19.
On October 21, the government will be expected to draw up a list of specific measures under Article 155 of the constitution, launching the transfer of powers from Catalonia to Madrid.
Catalan leaders, including President Carles Puigdemont, have signed a declaration of independence from Spain, following the October 1 disputed referendum.
However, the Catalan leaders say the move will not be implemented immediately to allow talks with the Spanish central government.
It is unclear whether the document – calling for Catalonia to be recognized as an “independent and sovereign state” – has any legal status.
The move was immediately dismissed by the Spain’s government.
Catalonia independence referendum – which Catalan leaders say resulted in a Yes vote for independence – was declared invalid by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
Earlier in the day, Carles Puigdemont told the Catalan parliament in Barcelona that the region had won the right to be independent as a result of the referendum.
According to Catalan officials, the referendum resulted in almost 90% of voters backing independence. However, anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot – which had a reported turnout of 43% – and there were several reports of irregularities.
National police were involved in violent scenes as they manhandled voters while implementing the legal ruling banning the referendum.
The declaration reads: “We call on all states and international organizations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state.”
Carles Puigdemont told the regional parliament that the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to “de-escalate” the tension around the issue.
“We are all part of the same community and we need to go forward together. The only way forward is democracy and peace,” the Catalan president told deputies.
He also said Catalonia was being denied the right to self-determination, and paying too much in taxes to the central government in Madrid.
Spain’s Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria responded to the declaration by saying: “Neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim… to impose mediation.
“Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law.”
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for October 11 to address the latest moves in the crisis.
Independence supporters had been sharing the Catalan hashtag #10ODeclaració (10 October Declaration) on Twitter, amid expectations that Carles Puigdemont would ask parliament to declare independence on the basis of the referendum law it passed last month.
However, influential figures including Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau and European Council President Donald Tusk had urged Carles Puigdemont to step back from declaring independence.
Catalonia, a region of Spain for centuries but with its own distinct language and culture, enjoys broad autonomy under the Spanish constitution.
However, a 2005 amendment redefining the region as a “nation”, boosting the status of the Catalan language and increasing local control over taxes and the judiciary, was reversed by the Constitutional Court in 2010.
The economic crisis further fuelled discontent and pro-independence parties took power in the region in the 2015 elections.
Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, accounting for a quarter of the country’s exports. However, a stream of companies have announced plans to move their head offices out of Catalonia in response to the crisis.
The EU has made clear that should Catalonia split from Spain, the region would cease to be part of the European Union.
Catalonia’s chief of police Josep Lluis Trapero is appearing before a judge in Madrid on suspicion of sedition against the state.
His Mossos d’Esquadra force is accused of failing to protect Spanish national police from protesters ahead of the October 1 independence referendum.
Another Catalan police officer and two leading independence activists are also being questioned as suspects.
Catalonia’s independence vote was declared illegal under Spanish law.
The hearing is taking place at the national criminal court in Madrid. The defendants are accused of failing to help Guardia Civil police tackle thousands of pro-independence protesters outside the Catalan Economy Department in Barcelona on September 20.
According to ElPais, the accusation against the Mossos is extraordinary in post-Franco democratic Spain.
The crime of sedition has been in every Spanish penal code since 1822 and carries a potential prison term of up to 15 years. It amounts to rebellion against state decisions or national security forces.
As recently as August the Mossos was being widely praised for quickly tackling the Islamist cell that carried out the Barcelona terror attack in that month.
Following October 1 vote the Catalan regional government says it might unilaterally declare independence within days.
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy will chair a cabinet meeting to discuss the next moves in the confrontation with Catalonia.
Referendum organizers put the turnout at 42%, with 2.2 million people taking part. They say 90% voted for independence, but have not published final results. There have been several claims of irregularities.
There was violence at polling stations as police, trying to enforce a Spanish court ban on the vote, attempted to seize ballot boxes and disperse voters.
The court’s ruling on October 5 upheld a challenge by Catalonia’s Socialist Party, which opposes secession from Spain, and not from the government in Madrid.
Allowing the regional parliament to meet and declare independence, the court said, would violate the rights of the party’s lawmakers.
An earlier ruling by the court aimed at stopping October 1 vote was ignored by Catalonia’s leaders. That challenge to the court had come from Spain’s government, which condemned the referendum as illegal.
Organizers of October 1 vote put the turnout at 42%, with 2.2 million people taking part. They say 90% voted for independence, however they have not published final results. There have been several claims of irregularities.
There was violence at polling stations as police, trying to enforce a Spanish court decision to ban the vote, attempted to seize ballot boxes and disperse voters.
President of the Generalitat of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont says the Spanish region has won the right to statehood following a contentious referendum that was marred by violence.
Carles Puigdemont, 54, said the door had been opened to a unilateral declaration of independence.
According to Catalan officials, 90% of those who voted backed independence on October 1. The turnout was 42.3%.
Spain’s constitutional court had banned the vote and hundreds of people were injured as police used force to try to block voting.
Officers seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations.
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an illegal vote.
According to Catalan authorities, more than 2.2 million people were reported to have voted, out of 5.3 million registered voters. A Catalan spokesman said more than 750,000 votes could not be counted because polling stations were closed and urns were confiscated.
In a TV address, Carles Puigdemont said: “With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic.
“My government in the next few days will send the results of today’s vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum.”
He said the EU could no longer “continue to look the other way”.
Meanwhile, PM Mariano Rajoy spoke of a “mockery” of democracy.
“At this hour I can tell you in the strongest terms what you already know and what we have seen throughout this day. There has not been a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia,” he said.
Large crowds of independence supporters gathered in the centre of the regional capital Barcelona on Sunday evening, waving flags and singing the Catalan anthem. Anti-independence protesters have also held rallies in Barcelona and other Spanish cities.
In another development, more than 40 trade unions and Catalan associations called a region-wide strike on October 3 due to “the grave violation of rights and freedoms”.
TV footage showed Spanish police kicking would-be voters and pulling women out of polling stations by their hair.
Catalan medical officials said 844 people had been hurt in clashes, including 33 police. The majority had minor injuries or had suffered from anxiety attacks.
In Girona, riot police smashed their way into a polling station where Carles Puigdemont was due to vote, and forcibly removed those inside. He voted at another station.
TV footage showed riot police using batons to beat a group of firefighters who were protecting crowds in Girona.
The national police and Guardia Civil – a military force charged with police duties – were sent into Catalonia in large numbers to prevent the vote.
The Catalan police – the Mossos d’Esquadra – have been placed under Madrid’s control, however witnesses said they showed little inclination to use force on protesters.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau condemned police actions against the region’s “defenseless” population, but Spain’s Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said police had “acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way”.
Catalan authorities said 319 of about 2,300 polling stations across the region had been closed by police while the Spanish government said 92 stations had been sealed off.
Since September 29, thousands of people have occupied schools and other buildings designated as polling stations in order to keep them open.
Many of those inside were parents and their children, who remained in the buildings after the end of lessons on September 29 and bedded down in sleeping bags on gym mats.
The anti-independence Societat Civil said there were voting irregularities, including the same people voting twice.
Catalonia is a wealthy region of 7.5 million people in north-eastern Spain and has its own language and culture.
However, Catalonia has a high degree of autonomy, but is not recognized as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.
Catalonia is holding an informal poll on independence.
The Spanish judiciary has ruled the vote unconstitutional but Catalan leader Artur Mas warned against any attempt to disrupt it.
Spain’s constitutional court suspended earlier plans for a referendum on secession.
PM Mariano Rajoy said the vote would have no effect and urged the region to return to “sanity”.
Voters will be asked whether they want a Catalan state and whether that state should be independent.
Catalonia is a wealthy a region of 7.5 million people and contributes more to the Spanish economy than it gets back through central government funds. Economic and cultural grievances have fuelled Catalan nationalism.
He says there is a long history of support for winning independence from Spain, or at least much greater autonomy within it.
This week, the Constitutional Court demanded the vote be suspended.
Catalonia is holding an informal poll on independence
Catalonia’s government insisted it went ahead, organized by volunteers and with no official electoral roll.
Artur Mas warned the Spanish government against any attempt to halt the vote.
He said: “I don’t know what they will do, it does not depend on us, but if they have a minimum of common sense I think any action out of the ordinary would be a direct attack on democracy and a direct attack on fundamental rights.”
Mariano Rajoy urged a return to sanity and for talks “within the legal framework of the constitution”.
He said the vote would be “neither a referendum nor a consultation nor anything of the sort”.
He added: “What is certain is that it will not have any effect.”
The Libres e Iguales (Free and Equal) group, which opposes the vote, held protests in dozens of cities.
One protest in Barcelona witnessed minor scuffles but no arrests.
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