A Spanish Supreme Court judge will take on the cases against ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and former members of his government who planned an illegal declaration of independence.
Judge Pablo Llarena will investigate a total of 22 suspects including Puigdemont as cases against Catalan politicians and the pro-independence activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart move to the Supreme Court from the National Court. Llarena justified the step by saying that the accusation of rebellion is a collective crime and the suspects should therefore be investigated together, according to a copy of his ruling sent by email.
The decision to group the cases may lead to those suspects who are currently in jail on remand, including eight former Catalan government officials led by former Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, being freed. That may leave them free to campaign ahead of regional elections called for Dec. 21 and allow Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to take some sting out of accusations that the vote isn’t democratic.
Llarena was already probing Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, and four other ex-members of the group in the assembly that planned its agenda. In a sign that he is likely to take a more lenient line than his counterpart at the National Court who had sent the suspects to jail, he has already freed Forcadell on bail.
Puigdemont and the other suspects are under investigation for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for organizing an illegal referendum and declaring Catalonia’s independence last month. National Court Judge Carmen Lamela had already issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to attempt to set up a Catalan government in exile.
Lamela will continue to probe suspects including the former head of the Catalan police force Josep Lluis Trapero, who is accused of sedition.