Spanish prosecutor seeks charges for deposed Catalan leaders

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Spain's state prosecutor is seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against Catalan leaders involved in the region's disputed independence bid that has thrown the country into political turmoil.

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The prosecutor, Jose Manuel Maza, said a range of senior Catalan figures, including deposed President Carles Puigdemont and all members of his former cabinet, would face court after the Catalan parliament voted to issue a unilateral declaration of independence last week.
The leaders could face lengthy jail terms if charged and convicted. Rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds carry maximum terms of 30, 15 and six years, respectively.
Spanish media reported that Puigdemont and several members of his sacked government had left the country and were now in the Belgian capital, Brussels. His spokesperson told CNN he did not know of his whereabouts.
Belgium's migration minister Theo Francken told reporters this week that his country would be legally required to consider Puigdemont's request for political asylum if he made one.
Carles Puigdemont making a statement in Barcelona last week.
Puigdemont did not attend a meeting of his Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) in Barcelona on Monday morning, nor was he seen at the Catalan government's headquarters.
Maza said the Catalan leaders had "created an institutional crisis that culminated with the declaration of unilateral independence, with total disregard for our Constitution." He said his office had filed documents with the High Court and Supreme Court, which will consider the charges.
A document laying out the charges says that several of the leaders had misused public funds by holding an independence referendum on October 1, which it described as illegal. Catalan leaders have argued that there is no legal way to give their people a choice on secession.
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