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Speaker of Catalonia's sacked parliament detained over independence bid

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Madrid, November 10: The speaker of Catalonia's sacked parliament, Carme Forcadell, was detained on Friday over her region's controversial drive for independence from Spain. Forcadell was held by Spain's Supreme Court in Madrid pending bail of 150,000 euros, a court spokesman said.

Demonstrators holding banners reading in Catalan "freedom for the political prisoners" gather outside the Palau Generalitat, during a protest against the decision of a judge to jail ex-members of the Catalan government, in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. PTI file photo

Forcadell and five other deputies appeared in front of Spain's highest tribunal on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds -- which carry a maximum jail sentence of 30 years -- for aiding the Catalan parliament's secession bid.

They are suspected of having followed a "concerted strategy to declare independence", before the official declaration on October 27, deepening Spain's most serious political crisis in decades.

That declaration was annulled yesterday by Spain's Constitutional Court. Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena ordered one Catalan lawmaker freed, but the four others apart from Forcadell must pay 25,000 euros within a week to avoid jail.

The Catalan crisis has prompted hundreds of businesses to re-register outside the wealthy northeastern region and caused disquiet in the European Union still dealing with Britain's shock decision to leave the bloc.

On Thursday, a general strike called in Catalonia by a pro-independence union triggered widespread travel chaos, cutting Spain's main highway link to France and the rest of Europe. Trains from Barcelona to Paris, Marseille and Lyon were disrupted. Authorities said around 150,000 people were affected.


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