‘The more fuel you pour on the fire, the bigger it gets’: Catalan separatist leaders arrive for questioning in Madrid

'The more fuel you pour on the fire, the bigger it gets': Catalan separatist leaders arrive for questioning in Madrid
Members of the deposed Catalan government including former secretary for external relations Raül Romeva arrive at the National Court in Madrid. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
Catalonia's deposed vice-president and other separatist leaders arrived at court in Madrid on Thursday for questioning over accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds through the pro-independence process in the region.

14 members of the deposed regional government were called to the National Court in the Spanish capital, including president Carles Puigdemont. He was one of six not to turn up for the hearings however, as was expected after his lawyer said on Wednesday that he would stay in Brussels.

READ ALSO: Puigdemont's legal team say he will not appear at court in Madrid

Puigdemont's deputy Oriol Junqueras was first to arrive at the National High Court, and was followed by seven other ex-MPs including the Catalan government's former secretary for external relations, Raül Romeva.

At the nearby Supreme Court meanwhile, speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell and five deputies turned up to be questioned for the same offences.

Carme Forcadell arrives at the Supreme Court in Madrid. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

Puigdemont’s predecessor Artur Mas came to the National Court to show his support for the politicians called to declare.

“Many of us are here, myself included, to be close to and support our people, the people from the government who are here and shouldn't be here,” Mas told a crowd of reporters outside the court in Spanish and Catalan.

“We won't solve the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish state with courts and violence. Only politics will. On the contrary, the more fuel you pour on the fire, the bigger it gets. Pro-independence sentiment is growing in Catalonia,” he insisted.

Referring to snap regional elections called by the Spanish government, Mas noted:

“The 21st of December is a good opportunity for this authoritarianism to be beaten with ballot boxes”.

The crime of rebellion is punishable with up to 30 years behind bars in Spain.