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Senior Catalan politician bailed after hearing on secession charges

Catalan separatist politician and left-republican ERC party’s Marta Rovira Marta Rovira (R) leaves the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid on February 19, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

A senior politician of Spain’s Catalonia has been bailed after a hearing on secession charges related to the region’s controversial independence movement last year.

A judge in Spain’s Supreme Court set a bail of 60,000 euros ($74,600) for Marta Rovira, the Secretary General of the pro-independence ERC party, on Monday after she was questioned over her role in Catalonia’s independence push.

Rovira and Marta Pascal, the leader of the conservative PDeCAT party, have been identified by the Spanish judicial police as key players in the independence drive in Catalonia that began with a referendum on October 1 and culminated in a declaration of independence later on October 27. Pascal was also questioned in the court on Monday.

Witnesses of the court proceedings said Rovira denied the independence declaration, made by former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, had any legal effect, saying it was a symbolic gesture.

The bail for Rovira comes against the backdrop of other rulings by Madrid courts to hold senior Catalan politicians under custody pending a final verdict on charges of rebellion and sedition.

Former regional vice president Oriol Junqueras is now behind bars along with three other suspects while Puigdemont and four former cabinet members evaded prosecution by fleeing to Belgium. More than two dozen other Catalan officials, including lawmakers, politicians and the regional police chief, are also under investigation.

The independence movement in Catalonia, a wealthy region on Spain’s Mediterranean border with France, sparked a massive political crisis in the country.

The government in Madrid intensified a crackdown right after the independence declaration and took over administrative affairs of the semi-autonomous region after sacking the government and parliament of the region.

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