October 19, 2018
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Catalan parliament speaker to spend at least 1 night in jail

Madrid, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell was taken to a Madrid prison Thursday night after failing to post the bail set by the Spanish Supreme Court in the sedition case brought against her over with the region's secession bid.

Forcadell was transported to Alcala-Meco, the capital's only detention facility with a women's section, at 11:40 pm.

Judge Pablo Llarena set Forcadell's bail at 150,000 euros ($175,000). It appears likely she will be able to post the required amount on Friday and secure her release.

Under the bail conditions, Forcadell will have to surrender her passport and regularly report in person to judicial authorities.

The Catalan National Assembly has announced that it will tap its "solidarity fund" to cover Forcadell's bond as well as the bail of 25,000 euros each for four other Catalan lawmakers who appeared before Llarena along with the speaker.

A sixth legislator was released without charge after demonstrating to the judge's satisfaction that he did not vote in favor of the Oct. 27 Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

In the course of the hearing, Forcadell agreed to comply with the central government's application of Article 155 of Spain's Constitution, effectively suspending Catalonia's autonomy.

She also described the Catalan declaration of independence as purely symbolic.

"Avoiding a parliamentary debate would have been a breach of the legality applicable to the Speaker's office within international law and relevant to the principles of a democratic state," Forcadell was heard to say by courtroom sources who later briefed EFE.

She also said that as speaker, she could not control the "background" of parliamentary initiatives or prevent votes from happening.

The judge, however, found Forcadell's testimony unconvincing, writing in his order that she played a principal and "essential" part in the referendum and declaration of independence and suggesting that her vows to abide by Article 155 might be "dishonest."

The prosecution accuses Forcadell of going ahead "in opposition to the Constitution" by allowing a bill enabling the Oct. 1 secession referendum to pass through the chamber and by allowing a vote on the unilateral declaration of independence despite "being fully aware of their obvious and evident unconstitutionality."

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