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Spain charges 13 Catalan politicians with rebellion

Spain to try Catalan separatist leaders for rebellion

At least 20 people were injured as police used riot batons to keep protesters away.

Many Catalans went to the streets after yesterday the Spanish Supreme Court made a decision to sue 25 of the former district leaders who took measures to declare the independence of the area in the autumn of past year.

Turull was one of the five politicians who responded to a court summons, only to find that Judge Llarena had made a decision to send them to jail, denying them bail.

If he returns to Spain, Puigdemont faces up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and sedition for his part in organising an illegal referendum on secession last year.

Rovira, who did not specify where she was headed, is the seventh separatist to flee overseas to escape charges.Separatist parties won regional elections in December called by Madrid after they attempted to secede, retaining their absolute majority in parliament.

Judge Llarena also issued an arrest warrant for Marta Rovira, the deputy head of the separatist Esquerra Republicana party, who failed to appear in court on Friday.

A judge said the five were serious flight risks.

The state of Catalonia declared independence from Spain in October a year ago after there was friction between the regional and national governments.

It comes as a Supreme Court judge ordered the imprisonment of the former regional minister with other four separatists with no bail.

Llarena's prison orders bring the total number of jailed separatist Catalan leaders to nine. She said: "I start a hard road, that of exile", and is believed to be in Switzerland where Anna Gabriel is now living.

"The [parliamentary] session has been canceled", speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent said at the session's opening.

Another, calmer, rally filled the huge Catalonia Square in central Barcelona.

The regional parliament now has two months to elect a president and form a government before a new election is triggered.

After the Supreme Court ruling, protesters gathered in downtown Barcelona on Friday evening, cutting off one of the city's main avenues.

The semi-autonomous region has been without a leader for almost five months after central authorities took control following October's illegal independence declaration.

In a broad alliance swinging from centre-right to far left, the separatists failed to elect a new regional president on Thursday after their most radical faction refused to back Turull in a vote of confidence.

If Mr Turull is not jailed today, parliament rules give him a second chance to be considered as the north-eastern region's leader tomorrow, when he would need a simple majority of votes. If they can not agree to a government in two months, another regional election will be held.