Warrant issued for ousted Catalan leader

Nov 03, 2017, 00:20
Warrant issued for ousted Catalan leader

A High Court source said the arrest warrant for Puigdemont, who is in Belgium, would "most likely" be issued on Friday.

Five of the 20, including sacked regional President Carles Puigdemont, traveled to Brussels following the declaration and are refusing to appear.

Mr Puigdemont's lawyer in Belgium said his client would stay away from Spain while the political climate was "not good"; but he would cooperate with the courts. The charges follow Catalonia's October 1 independence referendum, ruled illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.

This led to the Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy dissolving the regional parliament and calling a snap election for December.

Puigdemont said he went to Belgium to garner support from the European Union - not because he's seeking political asylum.

"I'm ashamed that they lock up opponents in my country", said Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, which opposes independence.

The jailing of the former ministers caused an uproar in Catalonia, where pro-independence protesters filled the streets.

They were ordered to appear in Madrid's Audiencia National (high court) on Thursday morning for questioning.

The request also covers four other dismissed Catalan ministers who did not show up.

"The defendants have played an active role by propelling the carefully designed secessionist process and overcoming all kinds of obstacles that could make them deviate from their final objective", the judge said in the ruling that sent the defendants to jail.

According to Spain's chief prosecutor, the Catalan leaders were accused of rebellion - which carries a maximum 30-year jail term - as well as sedition and misuse of funds.

The prosecution requested that former business minister Santi Vila was bailed, and this was granted.

On Tuesday, AN Judge Carmen Lamela admitted the legal action by the Attorney General's Office of the State against the former Catalonian president and all the members of his cabinet for alleged crimes of rebelliousness, sedition and embezzlement.

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