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Spain skeptical over Catalan official's vow to abide by laws

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Protestors with Esteladas or pro-independence Catalan flags block the high-speed AVE train at the Sants train station during a general strike in Barcelona last night

Speaker Carme Forcadell will be transferred to the Alcala Meco prison outside Madrid and kept there until she pays 150,000-euro bail, court sources said. The vote, however, suffered from turnout of 43% and had been declared "illegal" by the Spanish Constitutional Court before any votes were cast.

About 30 people have gathered outside the Spanish Embassy in Latvia's capital over the Catalonia political crisis "to tell authorities there that they must respect the rights of those who want independence". The four lawmakers must pay bail of 25,000 euros while a fifth was released without bail.

They are suspected of having followed a "concerted strategy to declare independence", before the official declaration of the Catalan Parliament on October 27.

Spanish government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo said the lawmakers' commitment to the judge indicated that a "return of constitutional order (in Catalonia) is starting to become a reality".

The struggle has also divided Catalonia itself and caused deep resentment across the rest of Spain, although separatist sentiment persists in the Basque Country and some other areas.

The High Court has issued an arrest warrant on rebellion charges for ex-President Puigdemont and four other former members of his cabinet who are with him in Brussels.

Forcadell, long one of the leading figures of the Catalan independence movement, testified Thursday that the independence declaration was "symbolic", according to lawyers familiar with the proceedings.

A top Catalan lawmaker on Friday left a Madrid prison where she spent the night after posting the bail a Spanish judge imposed as part of a wide-ranging rebellion investigation stemming from Catalonia's declaration of independence.

The Speaker of Catalonia's sacked Parliament appeared before Spain's Supreme Court on Thursday in the latest legal case brought against separatist leaders for their role in the region's divisive independence bid. She is expected to be released Friday after bail is deposited.

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told Cope radio it "remains to be seen" if she will keep her word, adding that if she doesn't, he expected the judge to review the release decision.

Eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots groups are already in custody, awaiting trial on sedition charges for their parts in the October 1 vote, ruled illegal by Spanish courts.

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