Jailed separatist is latest candidate for Catalan president

Catalonia's parliament is to vote next week on whether to elect a jailed separatist leader as the region's new president, as part of an ongoing effort to gain independence from Spain.

Parliament speaker Roger Torrent convened the plenary session in Barcelona for March 12, when Catalan lawmakers will vote on whether to make Jordi Sanchez their regional government's leader.

Sanchez, a former president of a prominent secessionist civic group called Catalan National Assembly who was elected to parliament last December, has been held in a prison near Madrid since October.

He is detained while a judge investigates whether he orchestrated protests that hindered authorities' attempt to halt preparations for a banned Catalan independence referendum on Oct. 1.

Sanchez has asked a judge to let him attend the plenary session.