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Catalan leaders could be barred from office before trial, says Spanish minister

Rafael Catalá says Court could suspend Carles Puigdemont and jailed pro-independence officials prior to a final ruling

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01 February 2018 11:45 AM

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ACN | Madrid

Carles Puigdemont and the Catalan leaders facing criminal charges for attempting to become independent from Spain could be barred from holding public office before their trials start, has said the Spanish justice minister, Rafael Catalá. That would effectively sweep away some of the key figures in Catalonia’s independence movement in one go.

According to Catalá, Spain’s Criminal Prosecution Law (Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal) allows the Supreme Court—currently investigating 28 pro-independence leaders—to suspend officials facing charges of rebellion.

“There could be a suspension from holding public office very soon, which could remove these people from the political landscape and make them unable to carry out political activities,” said Catalá in an interview with a Spanish TV channel on Thursday.

  • “There could be a suspension from holding public office very soon"

    Rafael Catalá · Spanish Justice minister

The decision could come as early as March, according to one Spanish newspaper. Although the Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena is not expected to give a final ruling until later in the year, the suspensions could become effective as soon as the trial to prosecute those under investigation starts.

“There is an interpretation which says that when someone is prosecuted for serious or rebellious crimes, even before the final ruling, it is already possible to bar people from holding public office,” said Catalá.

The accused face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for their role in the political process that concluded with a declaration of independence in October—which was suspended by the Constitutional Court and which prompted the Spanish government to impose direct rule in Catalonia.

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  • Spanish Justice minister Rafael Català (by Roger Pi de Cabanyes)