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Catalan sacked parliament speaker detained pending bail

The speaker of Catalonia’s sacked parliament, Carme Forcadell, has been detained over her role in the Spanish region’s secession bid, pending the payment of a 150,000-euro bail.

Forcadell and five other lawmakers appeared in Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday on the charge that they ignored Constitutional Court orders and allowed an independence vote in Catalonia’s regional parliament.

Judge Pablo Llarena ruled one Catalan lawmaker to be freed. The four others were ordered to pay 25,000 euros within a week to avoid detention, media on Friday cited a court spokesman as saying.

After the ruling, Catalonia’s deposed regional president, Carles Puigdemont, tweeted that the parliament speaker had been forced “to sleep in jail for having allowed a democratic debate.”

Secessionists claim that 90 percent of voters in the referendum opted for separation from Spain, but critics say the referendum had been unconstitutional and the turnout, according to former Catalan officials themselves, was only 43 percent.

The Catalan parliament declared independence from Spain after holding the banned referendum on October 1, but the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed its parliament and government and organised new regional elections for December 21.

Spain’s Constitutional Court annulled the declaration of independence on Wednesday.

Puigdemont and four of his dismissed Cabinet members have fled to Brussels, where they are fighting Spanish arrest and extradition orders.

Last week, a court in Madrid ordered that eight other members of Puigdemont’s sacked government be detained and tried for their role in the events. They could go to jail for up to 30 years if found guilty.

There are 7.5 million people in Catalonia who are divided over the independence bid. The rich region accounts for a fifth of Spain’s GDP.

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