Spanish parliament suspends four jailed Catalan MPs

Madrid: Spain’s parliament suspended on Friday the mandates of four Catalan lawmakers who were elected while in custody and on trial over their role in the failed 2017 separatist bid.
The expected move could reduce the threshold of an absolute majority that acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez needs in the congress, or lower house, to be sworn in for a second term.
His Socialists came top in a general election last month but failed to secure a majority in the assembly.
However, if the four lawmakers cede their seats to replacements, Sanchez would once again need the help of Catalan separatist parties to be sworn in during an investiture vote expected in the first week of July. The mandates of Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Jordi Sanchez were automatically suspended because they are being held in custody while on trial in the Supreme Court, parliament speaker Meritxell Batet told a news conference. She said she had asked for a report to clarify what the threshold for an absolute majority will be in this case.
The four men have been charged with rebellion for organising a banned independence referendum which was followed by a short-lived declaration of independence, sparking Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
The first three have also been charged with embezzlement of public money to stage the referendum, which was marred by a violent police crackdown.
Catalan senator Raul Romeva, who is also on trial for rebellion and embezzlement, was expected to be suspended later by the Senate, parliament’s upper house. — AFP