Published: Mon, November 06, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Spain issues arrest warrant for ousted Catalan President Carles

Spain issues arrest warrant for ousted Catalan President Carles

A Spanish judge has issued a European arrest warrant for ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

National Court investigating judge Carmen Lamela filed the request with the Belgian prosecutor on Friday evening, and issued separate worldwide search and arrest warrants to alert Europol in case the five flee Belgium.

The fight between Spain and Catalonia's separatists reached a Belgian judge on Sunday after the region's deposed leader and four ex-ministers surrendered in Brussels to face possible extradition to Madrid for allegedly plotting a rebellion.

Mr Puigdemont's rallying cry came a day after a Spanish judge issued an arrest warrant against him, with prosecutors seeking to charge him with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over his secessionist drive.

The central government responded by dismissing Mr Puigdemont's executive, imposing direct rule and calling fresh Catalonia elections on December 21.

Mr Puigdemont, 54, told Belgium television that he wanted to appear "before the true Justice (of Belgium), not before the Spanish".

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They will go before a judge who will have until Monday morning to decide the next step, which could include executing arrest warrants against the men or imposing bail requirements, said Gilles Dejemeppe, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.

In response, the Spanish Senate triggered Article 155, stripping the Catalan government of power. The ninth spent a night behind bars before posting bail and being released.

Hundreds of pro-secession Catalans gathered in town squares across the region Sunday to put up posters in support of independence and to demand the release of the jailed separatists. The declaration is deemed mostly symbolic because it is unlikely Spain or the worldwide community will recognize an independent Catalonia.

Carmen Lamela, a judge in Spain's National Court, asked the Belgian prosecutor's office to arrest Puigdemont and four ministers in the dissolved Catalan government who ignored a court order to appear before a judge Thursday.

They had fled to Belgium this week after being removed from power by Spanish authorities as part of an extraordinary crackdown to impede the region's illegal declaration of independence.

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