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Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena has summonsed all the parties involved in the case relating to the events surrounding last year's Catalan independence referendum for this Friday, 23rd March, at 10:30am to inform them of the details of the prosecutions, ending the investigation phase. Specifically summonsed are Carme Forcadell, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa and Marta Rovira to decide whether they are to be sent to prison until the trial is held. This hearing will involve modifying the cautionary measures Llarena has issued, following article 505 of the law of Criminal Procedure.

Currently none of the suspects can leave Spanish territory, their passports have been withdrawn and they have to appear weekly before the closest judge to their homes.

Friday's summons is important when it comes to bans from public office. Turull being banned, specifically, would prevent him from being invested as president of Catalonia if tomorrow, during the talks to be held by the Parliament's speaker, he is nominated to the role.

To ban an official from public office, the investigation phase has to have finished, and the order to go to trial with the charges defined or the suspect to be in pretrial detention are also needed. So, Llarena's review of the cautionary measures could act as a prior step to a ban from public office.

At the same time, the wait continues for the verdict from the appeals chamber, which has to decide whether to release Joaquim Forn, as public prosecutors requested yesterday. What seemed almost certain has now become more complicated: if the judge is already ending the investigation and considering sending some deputies to prison (some for the second time), it seems that the door that was opening for Forn might be shut again. For the moment however, the verdict on the appeal hasn't been announced, expected late today or early tomorrow.

To trial

On Friday, therefore, we will learn what crimes the suspects are formally accused of and from that point the procedure to hold the trial will get underway. The first step will be the formal filing of charges, which will reveal what sentences, including how many years in prison, are requested for each suspect.

Llarena has specifically summonsed six of the accused (Carme Forcadell, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa and Marta Rovira) accompanied by counsel "to carry out the appearance decreed in article 505 of the law of Criminal Procedure". This could involve sending them to pretrial detention. Turull, Romeva and Rull spent a month in prison last year before being released on bail, Forcadell was later also held overnight before she posted bail.

The end of the investigation phase and final definition of charges will also allow Llarena to issue European and international arrest warrants for the government in exile and Anna Gabriel, and request their extradition. With the charges defined, if they match with crimes in the penal codes of the countries the exiles are in (Belgium, Scotland and Switzerland), the legal systems in those countries should have to agree to extradite the suspects.

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