MADRID — Anna Gabriel, a leading figure of the separatist movement in Catalonia who is due in court in Madrid this week to face possible charges of sedition and rebellion, has traveled to Switzerland, raising doubts that she will appear before the judge.
Ms. Gabriel’s party, Popular Unity Candidacy, said late Saturday that she had gone to Geneva to prepare her legal defense and bolster international support for the leaders of Catalonia’s independence movement. The argument echoed one made by Carles Puigdemont, the region’s former leader, when he fled to Belgium in October after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain disbanded the regional government and the authorities sought Mr. Puigdemont’s arrest on sedition charges.
Ms. Gabriel’s party raised doubts in a statement on Saturday evening that she and other separatist leaders could be guaranteed a fair trial in Spain. The party said that prosecutors were seeking “very high prison sentences,” and it accused the Spanish judiciary of handling the case so far in a way far from “the impartiality that should be guaranteed by judicial authorities.”
Spanish politicians on Sunday warned Ms. Gabriel against following Mr. Puigdemont’s example. “We’re noting today that it looks as if the modus operandi of Mr. Puigdemont is spreading,” Andrea Levy, a senior member of Mr. Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party, told reporters.
Ms. Gabriel will eventually have to answer for “her serious irresponsibilities,” Ms. Levy added. “You have to answer before Spanish justice, because no form of escapism is acceptable.”
While Spain’s judiciary has been seeking to try as many as 28 leaders of Catalonia’s independence movement, Catalan lawmakers have been tussling over how to form a regional government after pro-independence parties narrowly retained their parliamentary majority in a December election. Mr. Puigdemont hopes to be reappointed leader of Catalonia despite being in Brussels, and Oriol Junqueras, the leader of the other main separatist party, is being held in prison in Madrid after being denied bail.
Ms. Gabriel is among a handful of Catalan politicians called to appear in court in Madrid this week. They could face charges of sedition and rebellion after advocating independence for Catalonia in violation of the Spanish Constitution, and for organizing a referendum on independence on Oct. 1 that had been declared illegal by the Constitutional Court. Ms. Gabriel’s party said it would announce on Tuesday, a day before her court summons, whether she would return to Spain from Geneva.