Spain Issues Warrant Of Arrest For Catalan Leader

Spain on Friday issued an arrest warrant on sedition and other charges against Carles Puigdemont, tightening the judicial net around the former Catalan leader who went Brussels after his government was sacked over a declaration of independence.

 

A Madrid High Court judge asked Belgium to arrest Puigdemont and four associates after they ignored a court order to return to Spain on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust relating to their secessionist campaign.

The judge rejected a request from Puigdemont to testify via video conference from Belgium.

In Brussels, a federal prosecutor said Belgian authorities would study the warrant before handing it to a judge. “We will give it to an investigative judge maybe tomorrow or the day after,” Eric Van der Sypt told Reuters.

Puigdemont, who is considering standing in a snap election in the region on Dec. 21, has said he did not trust Spanish justice but would cooperate with the Belgian courts.

Embroiled in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election when he took control of Catalonia in response to last week’s declaration of independence by its parliament.

Belgium, where a European arrest warrant can be blocked for several mainly procedural reasons, will have a maximum of three months to decide whether to send Puigdemont back to Spain.

On Thursday, nine members of his sacked cabinet were ordered by the High Court to be held in custody pending an investigation and potential trial.

“We consider ourselves a legitimate government,” Puigdemont told Belgian state television RTBF on Friday. “There must be a continuity to tell the world what’s going on in Spain ... It’s not with a government in jail that the elections will be neutral, independent, normal.”

“... I am ready to be a candidate ... it’s possible to run a campaign from anywhere.”

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