Spain Catalonia: Five separatist leaders detained

Jordi Turull could be disqualified from holding office over Catalonia's independence drive

Jordi Turull could be disqualified from holding office over Catalonia's independence drive

The woman deputizing for the jailed Junqueras as leader of the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party, Marta Rovira, was also among those indicted, but failed to appear in court on Friday, saying in a letter that she too had chose to take "the path of exile". Sixty-four lawmakers voted in favor, 65 against and four abstained.

An abstention by lawmakers from the anti-capitalist CUP party left Turull with 64 votes when he needed 68.

The five Catalan politicians remanded in custody on Friday were: (1) Jordi Turull - former Catalan government spokesman and the latest candidate for regional president, (2) Josep Rull - former Catalan development minister, (3) Carme Forcadell - former Catalan parliament speaker, (4) Raul Romeva - former Catalan foreign affairs chief and (5) Dolors Bassa - former Catalan labour minister.

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent said on Friday he would continue with the session and read a statement in support of pro-independence leaders, despite opposition from the government and unionist parties in Catalonia.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took over the region's government after it unilaterally declared independence in October.

Turull could still be chosen in a second vote due to take place on Saturday when only a simple majority is needed, but it is unclear whether this will happen. In total 25 people, the core of the movement, have been indicted over last year's independence drive. His candidacy brought political tensions in Spain to a head once more.

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In an hour-long speech to fellow MPs outlining the policies he would pursue if elected, Mr Turull did not mention the words "independence" or "republic".

But they have still not been able to form a government and face growing legal pressures. They are accused of rebellion, abuse and disobedience.

"You don't want.to start governing, because if you did, you would have come here with a candidate that didn't have to see a judge tomorrow", Arrimadas said.

Rajoy, speaking to reporters at an European Union summit in Brussels, declined to discuss the indictments but did criticize Rovira, though not by name: "I just want to say that we live in societies where we have to respect legal decisions and when a court summons us, we have to appear".

Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan Vice President, has been in prison since December. Three more members of the parliament announced Thursday they were giving up their seats. The five appeared before the court on Friday to be notified they would face trial and were detained immediately.

Following the referendum, the central government in Madrid sacked the Catalan regional government, imposed direct rule and called new elections but pro-independence parties returned with a slim majority.