Ex-Catalan leader, Puigdemont, 12 others charged with rebellion

Spain's supreme court charges 13 Catalan leaders with rebellion

Some parts of the crowd clashed with police and Spanish media report that more than 20 people were treated for minor injured.

Spain's Supreme Court said on Friday that it would prosecute for "rebellion" 13 Catalan separatists.

Spain's government has rejected a plan by separatists in Catalonia's regional parliament to elect prominent secessionist politician Jordi Turull as Catalan president. Jordi Turull, the leading candidate to be the next president of Catalonia, was among the group Llarena sent to prison.

Judge Pablo Llarena accused Puigdemont - now in self-imposed exile in Belgium - of organising the independence referendum in October a year ago despite a ban from Madrid and "grave risk of violent incidents". She said: "I start a hard road, that of exile", and is believed to be in Switzerland where Anna Gabriel is now living.

Other indicted include: the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell and Marta Rovira of the far-left ERC party, who dodged a court summons and announced she was going into exile. One of them, Clara Ponsati, has since moved on to Scotland.

Five other Catalan politicians, including Puigdemont, fled to Brussels following the bid for independence in late October.

They waved separatist flags and chanted "Freedom for the political prisoners".

The decision was met with calls for demonstrations on the streets of Catalonia.

With the first-round investiture vote having taken place, the constitutional clock is now ticking and the Catalan parliament must choose a new president within two months or new elections will be held, probably in July.

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Convictions could result in up to 30 years in prison.

Turull, a former Catalan Government spokesperson, has already been imprisoned by Spanish authorities over his involvement with the Catan independence movement, but at present remains free on bail.

Rights groups have already criticised the extent of Madrid's crackdown - though the European Union, wary of any splintering of its member states, has firmly supported the Spanish government's response.

Llarena said he considered that the current "attack on the State" was of a "gravity. without comparison in neighbouring democracies".

The Catalan government and institutions have been under direct control by Madrid since October, when Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule after the regional chamber declared independence following an illegal referendum on secession. Pablo Llarena wrote in his ruling on the case that those charged had being planning to push for independence since 2012 in concert with grassroots organisations.

The supreme court judge did not mention the treatment meted out by police on voters queueing by polling stations, images of which were flashed around the world.

But they have still not been able to form a government as their two previous candidates for the presidency proved problematic. Hoping to end the separatist challenge, Mr. Rajoy then called the election, which instead left Catalonia in a political deadlock.

Earlier this week Catalonia's fugitive ex-president said independence for the region is not the "only option" for resolving the crisis.

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