Spain Catalonia: Ex-parliament speaker Forcadell granted bail

Former speaker of Catalonia's sacked parliament Carme Forcadell arrives at the Supreme Court in Madrid on 9 November 2017 Image copyright AFP
Image caption As speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell has been one of the most visible faces of the push for independence

A Supreme Court judge in Spain has said the ex-speaker of the Catalan parliament can be freed on bail pending an investigation into her role in the banned push for independence.

Carme Forcadell will be held in custody until the bail of €150,000 (£132,000) is paid, court sources said.

Four other Catalan lawmakers were granted bail of €25,000.

All are being investigated for alleged rebellion and sedition over Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence.

A fifth Catalan MP, who is also under investigation, was released under certain conditions without bail being imposed.

In Thursday's ruling, Judge Pablo Llarena wrote: "All the accused... have expressed that either they renounce future political activity or, those that remain active, will do it renouncing any actions outside the constitutional framework."

Eight sacked members of the Catalan government are already being held in detention in a parallel investigation.

Spain's Constitutional Court ruled the Catalan bid for independence illegal.

The country has been gripped by a crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1 October in defiance of the central government in Madrid.

After the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence on 27 October, the Spanish government dissolved the parliament, sacked the Catalan leaders and called a snap election for 21 December.

As Ms Forcadell entered court on Thursday she was jeered by supporters of Spanish unity.

She and her five colleagues were part of the body that organised the affairs of the Catalan parliament.

They are accused of following a "concerted strategy to declare independence" that led to Catalonia announcing it was breaking away.

Ms Forcadell has always maintained that holding discussions and votes in a democratically elected parliament is not a crime.

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Media captionHere's what protesters in Catalonia are singing about

The Supreme Court in Madrid is dealing with the case because the six had parliamentary immunity at the time of the alleged offences. A previous hearing earlier this month was postponed until Thursday.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police tried to remove protesters blocking a street in Barcelona on Wednesday

Supporters of Catalan independence have already staged blockades of roads and railway stations, angered at the detention of the eight other politicians and two activists they see as political prisoners.

A Spanish judge is also seeking the extradition from Belgium of five others - including the former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont.

A Belgian judge has yet to decide whether to execute an EU arrest warrant.

Mr Puigdemont has been freed on bail and is scheduled to appear in court on 17 November.

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Media captionSpain's foreign minister: "No sympathy" for Puigdemont

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