WHAT a stark contrast between the actions of the Belgian and Spanish court systems in dealing with the former elected members of the Catalonian government who have now been deposed from office (“Belgian judge frees Catalan leaders after they promise to attend hearings”, The Herald, November 7).

In Belgium the deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his four colleagues who travelled there recently were released on bail under certain conditions, as neither the judge nor the state prosecutor thought it necessary to keep them in custody while the legal and extradition processes continued.

But in stark contrast, eight of their former cabinet colleagues who instead went to Madrid were summarily flung into jail by a Spanish judge without any reason given, as if they were dangerous criminals. In fact they were simply legally-elected politicians pursuing the independence cause, for which they were elected by a majority of those Catalans who voted at the earlier election.

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And astonishingly even this Spanish gross over-reaction has not been publicly condemned by either the European Union or the UK Government. Instead they have shamefully pretended that this is only an internal and private issue within Spain, when in fact it should be seen as a fundamental breach of basic human rights under international law.

If anything was likely to ensure that an even bigger majority of Catalans would vote for independence and freedom from Spanish control in the next election on December 21, this is it. But the concern must be that the Spanish Government and its police and military may now forcefully interfere in the election process, as they did recently at the attempted referendum.

And if the present Catalan ministers are kept in custody and are therefore unable to stand for re-election, there is a strong danger that others will not come forward to replace them, fearful of receiving similarly barbaric and unjust treatment by the Spanish government and court system.

Iain AD Mann,

7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.

THE decision by the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to stay in Brussels and fight extradition plus to contest the forthcoming legal elections has not only thrown Spain into a constitutional crisis but it has also placed the EU under extreme pressure to find answers to protect the so-called European unity at a time it is being tested by the Brexit negotiations.

There is little doubt the latest calamity to befall the EU is due to the single currency (the euro) and the push for an ever-closer fiscal and political union rather than remain a common free trade area which was the original intention when the UK first became a member. Indeed one of the key drivers for unrest is that a number of devolved richer regions no longer see the benefits of remaining with the nation state especially if they can keep the Euro, remain within the single market and stop their tax receipts being redistributed to poorer areas. Needless to say none of these "favourable" conditions would apply to an independent Scotland.

The latest debacle has all the trappings of the last major EU crisis (apart from immigration) when the Greeks also danced in the streets (after voting against imposed austerity) only to be forced to back down two weeks later due to pressure from European institutions. This is the very same EU that the SNP extols at every opportunity whilst denigrating everything that is British.

Having said all that it is fair to say that at least some of the Scottish nationalists who have been marched on several occasions to the top of the hill by Nicola Sturgeon (and her predecessor) have had the nous to march down again rather than jump over the edge of the cliff like the Catalan separatists.

As events unfold the likelihood is that the Catalan crisis will play the crucial part in determining the support in Scotland for holding a second referendum rather than the "hard" Brexit demonised by Ms. Sturgeon. But whether the latest EU crisis will question the blind following of the nationalists for full membership of a federated Europe remains to be seen. Somehow I doubt it as they have little else to shout about.

Ian Lakin,

Pinelands, Murtle Den Road, Milltimber, Aberdeen.