Spain judge jails eight Catalan ministers for sedition

Spain judge jails eight Catalan ministers for sedition

[JURIST] Judge Carmen Lamela of Spain’s National Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday jailed [press release, in Spanish] eight Catalan ministers by court order [text, PDF, in Spanish] on charges of sedition [penal code, PDF, in Spanish].

The court found that the ministers’ actions violated Article 544 [text, in Spanish], which establishes that individuals engage in sedition when they “impede, through force or extralegal methods, the application of [Spanish] law.” Spain’s Constitutional Court recently established that Catalonia’s referendum and subsequent declaration of independence [JURIST reports] were unconstitutional. Per Article 545 [text, in Spanish], sedition carries a sentence of 10-15 years in prison for people in positions of “authority.” A potential higher charge would be rebellion, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison [El País report, in Spanish].

Lamela denied the ministers bail because she found they posed a high flight risk. Already, five key players in the Catalan referendum, including Carles Puigdemont [profile], the deposed President of Catalonia, have fled the country to Belgium [El País report, in Spanish].

These charges likely represent a first step in Spain’s prosecution by Attorney General José Manuel Maza [profile] of Catalan leaders who oversaw the independence referendum [JURIST report].