Catalan parliament speaker gets bail but gagged for election campaign

Carme Forcadell, Speaker of Catalan parliament, gestures as she leaves Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid, Spain on November 2, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Catalan parliament speaker gets bail but gagged for election campaign

MADRID: The Catalan parliament’s speaker was to be released from prison on Friday, but the terms she agreed to in exchange for being granted bail seem likely to prevent her from campaigning on a pro-independence ticket for regional elections next month.
Carme Forcadell appeared in the Supreme Court on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, after she enabled a declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament in late October that prompted the Spanish government to take control of the region.
She was released on bail of 150,000 euros after agreeing to renounce any political activity that went against the Spanish constitution, according to the court’s ruling.
Those terms threaten to further undermine a pro-secessionist movement in which cracks are starting to appear.
Court sources had on Thursday quoted her as saying the independence declaration had not been legally binding.
Judge Pablo Llarena said the court could reconsider its ruling if it found evidence of her committing more offenses — effectively banning her from campaigning for independence for the Dec. 21 election.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election following the independence declaration, and also dissolved the Catalan parliament and fired the administration of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.
Forcadell at the time described Rajoy’s actions as a “coup” and an “attack against democracy,” while Puigdemont called the declaration a major step toward establishing an independent Catalan state.
On Tuesday, the PDeCAT party of Puigdemont — who went to Brussels after being deposed — failed to agree on a united ticket to contest the election with another secessionist party, denting the pro-independence camp’s hopes of pressing ahead with its bid to split from Spain after the election.
The court said in a statement it had received Forcadell’s bail payment and an official was en route to prison to release her.
Authorities are continuing to investigate her role in Catalonia’s banned independence drive, and the court confiscated her passport and ordered her to report to judicial authorities once a week.
The court had summoned her along with five Catalan lawmakers, four of whom were released on Friday on 25,000-euro bail after surrendering their passports. The fifth was released without bail or conditions.
Eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots groups remain in prison pending a separate investigation by the High Court.
Puigdemont, who also faces charges of rebellion and sedition, is appealing against an international arrest warrant served by Spain.
A grassroots Catalan pro-independence groups, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), said it had paid Forcadell’s bail and called a protest for Saturday to demand the release of the others.
“The bank of solidarity will cover the bails for the members of parliament. You are not alone!,” the ANC said on Twitter on Thursday.
($1 = 0.8582 euros)


Two suicide bombers kill three in north Nigeria mosque

Updated 22 April 2018
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Two suicide bombers kill three in north Nigeria mosque

KANO: Two suicide bombers killed three Muslim worshippers in a mosque in a northeast Nigerian town still being rebuilt after virtual destruction by Boko Haram in 2014, sources told AFP Sunday.
The bombers, a man and a woman, detonated their explosives inside the mosque during morning prayers on Saturday in the town of Bama in Borno state.
The pair "blew themselves up in a mosque while people were praying, killing three people," said Baba Shehu Gulumba, Bama local government chairman.
A senior military officer in Bama confirmed the death toll, adding that nine people were also injured.
"Some of the injured are in a critical condition and may hardly make it. They have been transferred to Maiduguri for better medical care," said the military officer, who asked not to be named.
The attack came two weeks after residents began returning to the town which was destroyed by Boko Haram four years ago.
Bama, a major trading hub on the road to Cameroon and home to 270,000 people, was captured in September 2014, forcing residents to flee to Maiduguri, the state capital.
When it was retaken by the Nigerian military in March 2015, 85 percent of the town had been demolished by the jihadists.
Borno state officials said it would require 40 billion naira (94 million euros, $111 million) to rebuild the town, a staggering amount in the impoverished region.
According to officials 11,000 homes had been rebuilt which residents said represent one-third of those destroyed.
On April 5 the state's information commissioner Mohammed Bulama said 1,200 people had returned to the town in a phased resettlement of the 100,000 displaced residents living in camps in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has been notorious for suicide attacks on civilian and military targets in response to army offensives that have put pressure on the militant group.
Recent days have seen a lull in such attacks.
However on Friday 10 people including four militia fighting the militants were injured when two female suicide bombers attacked Amarwa village in Konduga district, 38 kilometres from Maiduguri, according to militia sources.