Catalan separatists fail to elect regional president

Catalan separatist candidate fails to win regional presidency

Catalan separatist candidate fails to win regional presidency

Spanish Judge Pablo Llarena ordered detention without bail for Jordi Turull, the president of Catalonia's regional government, former regional legislators Josep Rull, Raul Romeva and Dolors Bassa, as well as the ex-president of the parliament, Carme Forcadell.

Announcing the rebellion charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years' imprisonment, Llarena said Catalan separatist politicians and grassroots groups had "colluded" for the past six years to draw up a plan for regional independence in defiance of Spain's legal and constitutional order.

Today, Turull is set to appear in front of the Spanish Supreme Court for a continuation of the investigation into the charges of rebellion and sedition levied against him.

They have all been transferred to prison in Madrid, making Turull's investiture in Barcelona impossible as his attendence was required.

The Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid has detained five Catalan separatist leaders, including the latest candidate for regional president.

The deputy leader of the leftwing separatist ERC party, whose chief is now in jail, is now in Switzerland, according to Spanish media.

Several Catalan politicians have fled Spain to avoid being put in jail, including former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October.

More than 20 people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and police in the Catalonia region of Spain during protests, news agencies reported.

A judge said the five were serious flight risks.

The court's decision means a second leadership vote for Turull which was due to take place on Saturday will not happen because his presence is compulsory.

Judge Llarena also issued an arrest warrant for Marta Rovira, the deputy head of the separatist Esquerra Republicana party, who failed to appear in court on Friday.

Since then, the Spanish region has been in a state of political limbo.

The five join four other Catalan leaders already in prison. Several separatist leaders, including former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, have been in custody since a year ago.

"Today I undertake a hard road, a path that, unfortunately, so many others that preceded us have had to take", Rovira wrote, adding: "The path of exile". "Long live a Catalan Republic for all!", she said in a letter published in the Spanish media. The court could rule the candidate ineligible to hold office or imprison him if it finds there is enough incriminating evidence, thus torpedoing any hopes of a second debate later today. However, late on Friday, Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent said he would go ahead with the session and read a statement in support of those jailed earlier in the day.

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