Catalonia crisis: Sacked ministers held by Madrid court
Prosecutors had asked the judge to detain eight of the nine former regional government members who turned up for questioning in Madrid.
They are accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
The prosecutor asked the judge to issue a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.
The request also covers four other dismissed Catalan ministers who did not show up in court in Madrid as requested, but have been in Belgium since Monday.
Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1 October in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.
Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for 21 December.
This came after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare the independence of the affluent north-eastern region. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.
Those detained are:
- Former Deputy Vice President Oriol Junqueras
- Former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn
- Former Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva
- Former Justice Minister Carles Mundó
- Former Labour Minister Dolors Bassa
- Former Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull
- Former Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull
- Former Culture Minister Meritxell Borras
Mr Junqueras’s lawyer, Andreu Van den Eynde, criticised the decision to jail “people of peace” who he said had never participated in acts of violence.
A ninth official, ex-Business Minister Santi Vila, was granted bail at the request of prosecutors. He resigned before the Catalan parliament voted for independence last Friday.
Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court.
Their hearings have been postponed until 9 November.
Mr Puigdemont, who was spotted in a Brussels cafe on Thursday, has said he will not return to Spain unless he and four of his fellow sacked colleagues receive guarantees of a fair trial. He did not specify his exact demands.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor has said the law will be applied once an arrest warrant is received, according to Efe news agency.
Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer said the climate was “not good” for him to appear in court, but he also said his client would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium.
In addition to Mr Puigdemont, prosecutors have asked Spain’s high court judge to issue European arrest warrants for the following Catalan officials:
- Meritxell Serret, former agriculture minister
- Antoni Comín, former health minister
- Lluís Puig, former culture minister
- Clara Ponsatí, former education minister