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Catalan speaker has bail paid, may leave jail

AFP  |  Madrid 

The sacked speaker of Catalonia's was preparing to leave a prison near Madrid today as supporters posted her 150,000-euro bail a day after she was detained over her region's controversial independence drive.

A judge at the Supreme in Madrid on Thursday ordered Carme Forcadell to be held on charges of "rebellion" -- which carries a maximum jail term of 30 years -- as Spain's worst political crisis in a generation rumbles on.

Forcadell is one of several dismissed Catalan officials to be detained after their shock decision last month to declare the region of 7.5 million people independent from

A source said Forcadell arrived at the Alcala Meco jail near Madrid yesterday.

A spokeswoman said today that the 150,000 bond had been paid. "We're just waiting for the judge's order to free her," she told reporters.

The influential pro-independence ANC lobby group had earlier called for donations to cover Forcadell's bail.

The Catalan crisis has caused shockwaves across the European Union, prompting hundreds of businesses to re- register outside of the wealthy northeastern region.

Lawmakers opted to split from after a disputed October 1 referendum saw 90 percent of voters back secession.

Opponents of independence say that vote was deeply flawed and Catalans themselves remain split over separating from the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

In response to the declaration, Madrid fired Catalonia's government and parliament, suspended the region's autonomy and called for new elections there next month.

Forcadell appeared at the Supreme in Madrid yestersday along with five former Catalan lawmakers.

She left in a police car, but the others were given a temporary reprieve by the judge, who said they must pay 25,000 euros (USD 30,000) each within a week or be detained.

"Thank you very much to all of you for your support, warmth and esteem," Forcadell tweeted.

Writing on Twitter, deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, said Forcadell had "to sleep in jail for having allowed a democratic debate."

Puigdemont and four former Catalan ministers are due to appear in front of a Belgian judge next week after issued a EU-wide warrant for their extradition.

Eight members of his former cabinet were detained last week on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds for their role in the independence push.

The 54-year-old former journalist insists he will not get a fair trial in Madrid, and has called on authorities to release Catalan "political prisoners".

A lifelong advocate of Catalan independence, Forcadell insists that as parliamentary speaker she didn't "have the freedom to stop" the October 27 vote that saw lawmakers back a break from Madrid.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for voters to turn out en masse for the new elections next month in Catalonia, a region that accounts for a fifth of Spain's GDP.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 10 2017. 18:48 IST