Spanish court postpones questioning of six Catalan legislators

Carles Puigdemont

Van den Andreu, the lawyer defending other ex-members of the regional government, said whether his clients were jailed "was already predetermined" before they appeared in court.

Puigdemont is in Brussels, where on Tuesday he denounced the politicization of Spanish justice and accused the central government of Mariano Rajoy of resorting to force to suffocate the Catalonians' secessionist aspirations.

The detention of the secessionist leaders and Puigdemont's flight to Belgium make it hard for leading figures from the independence movement to stand in a snap election in the wealthy region called by the Spanish government for December 21.

Extradition requests between European Union countries are usually a simple affair because they recognize each other's laws, but Puigdemont's case is rare and could be hampered by political considerations.

The case stems from the Catalan parliament's declaration of the region's independence from Spain on October 27.

The ministers attempted to hold an independence referendum last month, however those trying to vote clashed with police as the government deemed it illegal.

Former ministers in the deposed Catalan government arrive at court.

The struggle has divided Catalonia itself and caused deep resentment across the rest of Spain.

However, they have requested the possibility of bail for one of them.

The probe could lead to charges of rebellion and sedition.

The prosecutor's request came after the nine ex-ministers were quizzed at the National Court on possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.

Mr Puigdemont and several ousted Cabinet members remain in Brussels, where he said they are seeking "safety and freedom" while judges back in Spain investigate them for pushing Catalan secession.

The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to give one more week to Forcadell and the Catalan lawmakers to prepare their defence and a new hearing will take place on November 9.

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