Former Catalan leader facing arrest in Finland

Former Catalan leader facing arrest in Finland

Former Catalan leader facing arrest in Finland

More than 20 people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and police in the Catalonia region of Spain during protests, news agencies reported.

A Spanish supreme court judge has charged Jordi Turull, Catalonia's presidential candidate, with rebellion and ordered him to remain in custody less than 24 hours before he was due to attend an investiture debate.

Dozens of Catalan secessionists will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement and disobeying the state, a court has ruled.

Convictions could result in up to 30 years in prison.

Puigdemont, who has been in self-imposed exile in Brussels for five months and faces immediate arrest should he return to Spain, said his former colleagues had been jailed for "their ideas and their commitment", adding: "The anti-democratic Spanish state shames Europe".

The latest detentions throw into doubt a planned second vote in the Catalan parliament on Saturday on whether to install Jordi Turull, now in prison, as regional president.

A judge said the five were serious flight risks.

The escalated legal action against the separatists follows Catalonia's independence referendum last October, which the Spanish courts declared illegal.

The decision sparked a wave of demonstrations in Barcelona and across Catalonia on Friday.

Six of the politicians were summoned to court on Friday - an indication that the judge may later in the day order them jailed pending trial.

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The other politicians who entered preventive detention included ex-parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell and three former members of the regional government.

Later on Friday, Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent said he would read a statement in support of those in prison in the parliamentary session.

Another, calmer, rally filled the huge Catalonia Square in central Barcelona.

Marta Rovira, who announced she was taking "the road to exile".

Earlier, representatives of the parties standing for Spain's territorial integrity also demanded to cancel the vote.

Several separatist leaders, including former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, have been in custody since past year.

But the separatist majority proved to be a failure in electing a regional government in a Thursday vote.

The semi-autonomous region has been without a leader for almost five months after central authorities took control following October's illegal independence declaration.

The court's decision will likely put an end to a planned vote this Saturday at the Catalan regional parliament to pick a new leader after Mr Puigdemont's departure a year ago.

The plan backfired as parties favouring a split with Spain won the vote, though they have been unable to agree on a common strategy or elect a new regional president.

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