Catalan parliament speaker freed on bail pending independence investigation

Spanish national police officer take up positions outside Spain's High Court where sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and dismissed cabinet members have been summoned to testify on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for defying the central government by holding a referendum on secession and proclaiming independence, in Madrid, Spain, November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

Reuters-A Spanish judge on Thursday (November 9) freed on bail the Catalan parliament’s speaker and four lawmakers while authorities continue to investigate their leading roles in Catalonia’s banned independence drive.

The Supreme Court had summoned them to answer charges of rebellion after they enabled an Oct. 27 declaration of independence that prompted the Spanish government to dissolve the Catalan parliament and sack the regional administration.

Speaker Carme Forcadell will be held in custody until she pays the 150,000-euro bail, according to the written ruling. The four lawmakers must pay bail of 25,000 euros, while a fifth was released without bail.

The judge’s decision to reject prosecutors’ requests to jail them gives the separatists, whose leader Carles Puigdemont went into self-imposed exile in Belgium last week, some breathing space as courts have been steadily tightening the legal noose.

Eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots groups remain in custody awaiting trial on charges of rebellion and sedition.

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