Spain |Developing

Ousted Catalan leader denies asylum quest in Brussels as Spain lays rebellion charges

  1. Puigdemont seeks Spain's guarantees of judicial fairness
  2. Separatist parties to run in regional elections in December
  3. Legal scholars question validity of independence declaration

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Eduard Castellano

Eduard Castellano

"Something like this? https://www.wi..."
George Engels

George Engels

"Sounds handy. Would you like to give ..."
Eduard Castellano

Eduard Castellano

"Having balance between papers of oppo..."
George Engels

George Engels

"Your point of signposting the politic..."

The sacked leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, has told a press conference in Brussels that he will continue the struggle for Catalan independence from Belgium, and will only return to Catalonia if given “guarantees” by the Spanish government about the conduct of any future trial.

Puigdemont, speaking in French, English and Catalan, confirmed he was not seeking asylum in Belgium and that he would accept the results of the snap election Madrid called for December 21. He called on Madrid to do the same.

The Spanish Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, is seeking charges of sedition, rebellion, and misuse of public funds against the separatist leaders for their role in Catalonia’s parliamentary declaration of independenceUnder the Spanish legal system, it is now up to a judge to consider the attorney general’s requests. The charge of rebellion carries up to 30 years in prison. Formal charges could polarize Catalan society further, since the issue of independence has been deeply divisive.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, the attorney general recommended charges against ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet to Spain’s National Audience, a senior court. Maza also recommended charges against Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and a handful of separatist lawmakers to Spain’s Superior Courts of Justice.

The chief prosecutor also said he would seek preventative charges against the secessionist leaders who allowed the vote on independence to go through. The prosecutor did not specify whether these measures included immediate arrest and detention before trial, as reported by AP.

Puigdemont’s trip to Brussels followed Madrid stripping Catalonia of its autonomy over the weekend – the first such action since the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government temporarily dissolved Catalonia’s semi-autonomous status, imposed direct rule over the region’s government (Generalitat) and called for early regional elections to take place on December 21, 2017. The moves were a direct response to the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence on Friday, October 27.

On Sunday, October 29, hundreds of thousands of pro-Spain demonstrators congregated in Barcelona to express their support for the central government’s decision. Supporters of continued union waved Spanish and regional flags, called for reconciliation between Spain and Catalonia, and demanded the jailing of separatist political leaders.

Demonstrators take to the streets in Barcelona to express support for Spain. Photo: Xavi Bosch Martí

Fears surrounding the potential for civil disobedience on Monday, October 30, of 200,000 civil servants employed by Catalonia’s dissolved administration. However public employees returned to work and secessionist parties accepted Madrid’s calls for regional elections.

Meanwhile, some legal scholars questioned the validity of the Catalonian parliament’s process. According to a column in Spanish digital newspaper Publico.es, the Catalan parliament’s vote is “a resolution without legal force despite having political value.” It also quotes Spanish legal scholars who say the legal manoeuvring is part of Puigdemont strategy to downplay the legal force of the separatists’ political declarations in preparation for potential legal battles in Spain’s courts. WikiTribune was unable to independently corroborate the information.


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United Kingdom
George Engels is a staff journalist and producer at WikiTribune. He has a background in history and philosophy and a strong interest in international politics and security, and social affairs. His work has been published by The Sunday Times, The Camden New Journal, The West End Extra and the Islington Tribune.

History for stories "Ousted Catalan leader denies asylum quest in Brussels as Spain lays rebellion charges"

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31 October 2017

15:18:16, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → bold)
15:17:40, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → final save)
15:08:24, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → copy smoothing)
15:06:54, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → updating top (was same as yesterday))
14:49:07, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → replaced day with date)
14:48:15, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → updated)
14:22:45, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ Lydia Morrish (Updated → Highlight)
14:21:56, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ Lydia Morrish (Updated → Update with news of Puigdemont press conference)
10:49:40, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → updated with latest info and legal scholars doubts about independence validity)
09:50:26, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → updated with confirmation of Puigdemont stay in Brussels)
09:41:06, 31 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → minor edit)

30 October 2017

21:42:58, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → )
21:36:28, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ David Blandford (Updated → Case.)
19:41:35, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → added headline SEO)
19:41:04, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → style)
18:00:07, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Cassandra Vinograd (Updated → edits throughout)
17:36:30, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → update on vocab used to describe charges against separatist leaders)
17:16:36, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Cassandra Vinograd (Updated → back to reporter to clean up inconsistencies)
17:12:44, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → updates)
17:00:41, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → updated top for clarity)
16:53:35, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Cassandra Vinograd (Updated → questions in bold)
16:41:11, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → minor formatting edits)
16:38:30, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → updated version)
16:07:54, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Matthias Kötter (Updated → typo fix)
16:07:03, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → link for P whereabouts)
16:02:48, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → wording of highlight)
16:02:08, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → updating highlights)
16:01:17, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → new head)
16:00:18, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → links to Cat parties)
15:56:09, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → saving link)
15:54:50, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → fixing italics)
15:54:27, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → parties to take part link)
15:51:15, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → new top)
15:42:30, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → updating with fuller BBC link)
15:14:15, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Martyn Dunne (Updated → % signs added in paragraph beginning "In the lead-up to this weekend's unprecedented events...")
14:48:36, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → Reuters link as well for P in Belgium)
14:23:30, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → deleted 1 word from highlight & some other minor edits)
14:21:37, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → shortened highlights)
13:47:14, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → Sunday in)
13:46:47, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → copy fix)
13:45:49, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → copy fixes)
13:44:42, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → redoing previous change)
13:43:01, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → tidying head to fit)
13:38:33, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → minor edits)
13:34:42, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ George Engels (Updated → formatting edits)
13:33:03, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → updating)
13:31:35, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → link to Brussels report)
13:29:26, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → space fix)
13:27:10, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → revising)
13:24:45, 30 Oct 2017 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → removing repetition)

Talk for Story "Ousted Catalan leader denies asylum quest in Brussels as Spain lays rebellion charges"

Talk about this Story

  1. Other

    I appreciate the “WikiTribune was unable to independently corroborate the information.” at the end of a paragraph.

    I was wondering if it would make sense to have a different text style for statements that could not be confirmed?
    More or less in the same way quotations are surrounded by quotation marks. This way readers can identify it as a quote (or in this case, un-corroborated statements) while their reading it rather than after reading it.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Julian, I think that’s a really interesting idea. I’ll bring it up at the next news meeting. Thanks

      1. … Feel free to add to the news agenda — under projects!

  2. Rewrite

    I am not sure about the neutrality of El Confidencial… Maybe find other sources?

    1. Rewrite

      Why are you not sure about El Confidencial’s neutrality? What other sources would you suggest?

      1. Rewrite

        Well… nothing is neutral, that’s why we are making this project 😛

        I think it’s more about how to manage the “proportionality” of facts, some sources emphasize in less relevant things to be more aligned with the political view of their readers.

        When I checked the headlines of El Confidencial today it seemed to me that some of headlines are even making fun of some politicians.

        I’m wondering how WikiTribune can manage this. Do we need side notes for the sources we are mentioning? Like, “This is a conservative newspaper […] which might have this headline for X and Y reasons…”.

        1. Rewrite

          Your point of signposting the political alignment of different newspapers is very interesting. I sought to balance the piece by having El Confidencial followed by El Periodico de Catalunya.

          In any case, we updated the story today with news from Puigdemont’s speech in Brussels. Many of yesterday’s questions regarding his travel to Brussels were answered in today’s announcement.

          1. Rewrite

            Having balance between papers of opposed views is a good idea, it actually solves neutrality in a way 🙂

            What about having an explanatory page of each newspaper somewhere in WikiTribune, and linking them from the articles? Could be political views, how are they funded, controversies in the past, etc.

            1. Rewrite

              Sounds handy. Would you like to give it a go?

  3. Other

    George, I suggest you include the idea expressed in this article in your in-depth story, it may be important for future judicial repercussions: http://www.publico.es/politica/realmente-aprobo-parlament-viernes-independencia-catalunya.html

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Guillermo, thanks for this. Will take it into account.

  4. Rewrite

    “Many didn’t in order to boycott the referendum.” Where does it say so?

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Hector, thanks for your comment. A couple of things. We trimmed the story down given the latest developments so that bit you mentioned isn’t in there anymore.

      However, that line was based off information in these sources:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29478415
      https://apnews.com/5341651334024917ad52c0cfa96c3cfd
      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-catalonia/catalonia-moves-to-declare-independence-from-spain-on-monday-idUSKCN1C9109

      I am aware that because 57 percent of the electorate didn’t vote, it is impossible to ascertain with precision how many of those didn’t with the express purpose of boycotting the vote.

      But, as I’m sure you’re aware, national political parties boycotted the vote because it lacked legal guarantees and had been suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court.

      The pro-Spain demonstrations on October 8 and October 29 further support the notion that many Catalans who didn’t vote on October 1 didn’t do so in order to boycott the event.

      Opinion polls in the lead-up to the poll suggested more people were in favour of “No”: http://ceo.gencat.cat/ceop/AppJava/loadFile?fileId=25317&fileType=1.

      While I also understand that some people might have been put off by the police charges of October 1, I think it’s still fair to assert that “many did not vote in order to boycott the referendum.”

      Finally, many Catalans I spoke to while I was reporting from Barcelona last week/weekend told me they didn’t vote because they didn’t want to seem to legitimise the vote on October 1.

    2. Rewrite

      You are making a lot of fair points there, but the word “boycott” does sound a little disproportionate. Anyway, I was mostly pointing out the lack of supporting source for that claim, regardless whether or not I agree with it. I reviewed the particular article and could not find anything related to “boycotting”. Perhaps, “not deeming the referendum as an official” would be a more fortunate statement. Still, as I’m seeing now, that part has been removed from the article. How come?

      1. I must have linked my assertion to the wrong Reuters article. My apologies. Thanks for insisting on more rigorous attribution, it’s one of the reasons why you, and our community, are so important to WikiTribune’s success.

        But I stick by the word “boycott” because it was the word used by many pro-Spain Catalans I interviewed when describing why they hadn’t voted on October 1. It was also the word used by many trustworthy news agencies, including by those I linked in response to your first comment.

        A whole section was removed from the story, including the statement in question, because we had already made many of the same points in other stories throughout the site.

  5. Rewrite

    The link to “(see our in-depth coverage)” is not working.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Guillermo, you’re right. We haven’t yet published the in-depth story. It should be going live later today. Apologies for the confusion.

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