Spain Seeks Charges Against Catalan Leaders

    30 October, 2017

    Spanish prosecutors say they will seek rebellion charges against the leaders of Catalonia's ousted government. The move follows Catalonia's declaration of independence from Spain last week.

    Spain considers Catalonia's moves to create an independent state a violation of the country's constitution.

    Chief prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza said Catalan leaders would also be charged with inciting people to rebel and misuse of public money. He accused the leaders of causing "an institutional crisis" by leading efforts to separate Catalonia from Spain.

    Maza did not name the individuals facing charges. But they reportedly include Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, as well as members of his cabinet and legislative leaders in Catalonia.

    A Spanish government official told the Associated Press that Puigdemont had traveled to Brussels, Belgium. Over the weekend, a Belgian official said it would not be "unrealistic" for Puigdemont to request asylum in the country.

    Catalan police officers stand guard next to the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, Monday Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
    Catalan police officers stand guard next to the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, Monday Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Catalonia's parliament declared independence from Spain Friday. Hours later, Spain's Senate voted to give the Spanish government the authority to take over direct rule of the northeastern area.

    Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy then ordered the dismissal of Catalonia's government and removed senior Catalan police officials. He also called for new elections to be held December 21.

    Despite the charges sought against Catalonia's leaders, the region's major secessionist parties said Monday they planned to take part in the elections. Political observers said this decision signaled unspoken acceptance by pro-independence parties of Spain's latest moves toward direct rule.

    On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of anti-independence demonstrators took to the streets of Barcelona to voice their opposition to Catalonia's declaration.

    On Monday, most employees in Catalonia showed up for work, ignoring calls by some pro-independence groups for civil disobedience protests.

    Catalonia – a wealthy region with its own language and culture - has long sought independence from Spain.

    Catalan leaders held an independence referendum on October 1. They said the results gave them clear authority to declare independence. Spain's government and Constitutional Court declared the referendum illegal.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Hai Do was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    authorityn. official power to give orders or make decisions

    referendumn. election in which people in an area vote for or against an issue of public concern