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Spain’s prime minister rules out negotiations with ousted Catalan leaders

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The Spanish prime minister has ruled out negotiating the future status of Catalonia with ousted leaders who unlawfully declared independence.

Mariano Rajoy described former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his colleagues as “politically off limits”.

In his first interview since applying direct rule in Catalonia, Mr Rajoy said that the region’s deposed government – eight of whom have been remanded in custody while Mr Puigdemont and four others await an extradition hearing after fleeing to Belgium – should not return to representative political roles.

All 14 members of the former Catalan government are being investigated by a Spanish high court judge for alleged crimes including rebellion and sedition. One, Santi Vila, has been released on bail while the investigation goes ahead.

“For me, all of those who deceived Catalonia should be barred from public life”, Mr Rajoy stated, adding that “in political terms they are off limits”.

Speaking on Spain’s COPE radio station, Mr Rajoy said it was “absurd” to think that members of the region’s ousted government could return to power from behind bars after the elections called in Catalonia for Dec. 21.

In an interview published on Monday by Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Mr Puigdemont had said that he believed agreement with the Spanish government was possible on something short of full independence for Catalonia.

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