Ousted Catalan government members and lawmakers began arriving at two Spanish courts in Madrid on Thursday to face possible charges of rebellion for having declared the region’s independence.
Twenty regional politicians, including sacked regional government president Carles Puigdemont, were called to appear after the chief prosecutor demanded charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement be pressed against them following the Catalan parliament’s declaration of secession October 27.
Spain took the unprecedented step of seizing control of Catalonia following the declaration and later sacked the cabinet, dissolved the regional Parliament and called fresh regional elections for December 21.
Mr. Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium with some of his ex-Cabinet members, will not appear, according to his lawyer, which could trigger a warrant for his arrest and an extradition petition.
The group summoned includes Mr. Puigdemont’s 13-member former Cabinet and six parliamentary board members.
Mr. Puigdemont’s No. 2, Oriol Junqueras, was the first to arrive at the National Court. He went in accompanied by lawyers, passing by dozens of journalists, declining to answer questions.
The crimes being probed are punishable by up to 30 years in prison under Spanish law. Mr. Puigdemont said he and six ex-ministers went to Brussels some days ago for “freedom and safety.”
Two of the ex-ministers returned to Spain and were scheduled to be among an estimated 15 lawmakers expected to appear. Four ex-ministers were to stay with Mr. Puigdemont.
Besides the ex-Cabinet members, six regional parliament members are to appear before the Supreme Court in a parallel probe. They include former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, one of the leading figures of the pro-independence movement in Catalonia for many years.