Spain charges exiled Puigdemont and 12 Catalan leaders with rebellion

Spain charges exiled Puigdemont and 12 Catalan leaders with rebellion

On Friday morning, Judge Pablo Llarena announced that 13 senior Catalan leaders - including Turull and the deposed regional president, Carles Puigdemont - would be charged with rebellion over their roles in last year's unilateral referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

The top court ruled that there was still a risk that Joaquim Forn, the ousted Catalan Interior Minister, and Jordi Sanchez, the former president of the pro-independence civil rights group ANC, to repeat the offenses that landed them in jail.

Although Friday's ruling dealt an immediate blow to the secessionist movement's leadership, the fresh round of detentions could further fire up the movement's supporters, who have referred to the politicians as "political prisoners".

At least 20 people were injured as police used riot batons to keep protesters away.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Barcelonia, Vic and Tarragona on Friday evening to protest against the court decision.

"Exile will be a hard road, but it is the only way I have to recover my political voice", Ms Rovira said in a letter. Spanish media reported that she had headed to Switzerland.

The High Court issued arrest warrants for other six more Catalan politicians.

Prosecutors want the main Catalan politicians to stand trial before the end of the year, but it is unclear whether Spain's judiciary will be able to force the extradition of those who have fled the country.

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 made a decision to take "the path of exile".

Puigdemont remained unshaken about the new warrant.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont faces arrest in Finland after authorities there received an global warrant for his detention issued by Spain, the latest legal action against separatist politicians from the wealthy northeastern region. "Every day things change", he said in Helsinki, where he was visiting. Arrimadas accused them of worsening the political showdown with Spain.

Catalonia is at the centre of an unprecedented constitutional crisis for Spain. A month later, he unilaterally declared independence, prompting Madrid to intervene in the autonomous region and call elections there in December - where the pro-independence parties once again won a bigger share of the vote than parties loyal to the Spanish crown. He was to have been the subject of a vote in the Catalan parliament on Saturday. These delivered a parliamentary majority to separatist parties, but failed to earn a majority of popular support.