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5 Catalan separatist leaders escorted to Spanish Parliament

May 20, 2019
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Catalan politicians Josep Rull, left, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull, right, leave after collecting their credentials at the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, Monday, May 20, 2019. The five separatist leaders on trial for Catalonia's 2017 secession attempt who were elected to the Spanish Parliament in April 28 elections have been escorted by police to pick up their official credentials. The five, along with other defendants, are being held in pre-trial jail. They face several years in prison if found guilty of rebellion. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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Catalan politicians Josep Rull, left, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull, right, leave after collecting their credentials at the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, Monday, May 20, 2019. The five separatist leaders on trial for Catalonia's 2017 secession attempt who were elected to the Spanish Parliament in April 28 elections have been escorted by police to pick up their official credentials. The five, along with other defendants, are being held in pre-trial jail. They face several years in prison if found guilty of rebellion. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

MADRID (AP) — The five separatist leaders on trial for Catalonia’s 2017 secession attempt who were elected to the Spanish Parliament last month picked up their official credentials under police escort on Monday.

The Supreme Court allowed the five to get their credentials and to also attend the opening session of the new Parliament on Tuesday.

However, it did not permit them to participate in any meetings or speak to the press while at the Parliament in Madrid.

Former Catalan regional vice president, Oriol Junqueras, and three other high-profile separatists won seats in the Lower Chamber, while Raül Romeva won a seat in the Senate.

Police transported them from prison to the Parliament buildings. They all wore suits and spoke with fellow lawmakers without the visible presence of uniformed police escorts once inside, as seen in televised images.

Despite the media ban, Junqueras posted a short video on Twitter in which he said “we are well because we are with friends” and asked for support for his party in Sunday’s European and municipal Spanish elections.

Junqueras is running for a seat in the European Parliament. He has said he will renounce his seat in the Spanish Parliament if he wins one in Europe.

The five, along with four other defendants, are being held in prison during the trial. They face several years in prison and being banned from holding public office if found guilty of rebellion or other crimes. Others, including ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, fled Spain.

The Catalan secession bid two years ago plunged Spain into its biggest political crisis in decades. The northeastern region’s 7.5 million residents are roughly split down the middle over whether to secede from Spain, according to opinion polls.

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