Spanish judge issues European arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader Puigdemont
04 November, 2017, 01:11 | Author: Dustin Murphy
A Spanish judge was deliberating yesterday on whether to issue an global arrest warrant for Catalonia's ousted leader a day after she jailed nine former members of the region's separatist government.
A Spanish judge issued a warrant for deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Friday after he failed to attend a court summons over his role in his region's push to split from Spain.
Prosecutors, in a written request to Lamela, said Puigdemont - along with Meritxell Serret, former agriculture minister; Antoni Comín, former health minister; Lluís Puig, former culture minister, and Clara Ponsatí, former education minister - were aware that they had been ordered to testify, but chose not to. The Spanish government has also called an early regional election for December 21.
Assemblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium Cultural have spearheaded the civil society efforts to achieve secession for the northeastern region.
Puigdemont was due to appear at Spain's National Court on Thursday to answer questions in a rebellion case brought by Spanish prosecutors, but he didn't show up.
One member of the dismissed cabinet, Santi Vila, was released after paying bail of 50,000 euros ($A78,000) on Friday.
The detention of the secessionist leaders and Puigdemont's flight to Belgium have given a new boost to the secessionist camp after cracks appeared in its ranks.
The issuance of the warrant for Puigdemont's arrest was expected but still increases the tension between Catalan leaders and the Spanish national government, which so far has thwarted the independence drive.
Under Spain's legal system, investigating judges can have suspects detained while a comprehensive probe, sometimes taking months, determines if they should be charged.
Vila stepped down from the Catalan cabinet before the independence declaration.
Thousands of people staged pro-independence protests on Thursday night in several Catalan towns, and parties forming the current coalition Junts Pel Si (Together For Yes) are pushing to run again on a joint ticket at the election.
Puigdemont and his Cabinet were removed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who used extraordinary constitutional authority authorized by the Spanish Senate to depose the separatists, dissolve the regional legislature and call the early regional election.
The other eight were held without having bail set. The court postponed a hearing on Thursday until next week to allow more time for them to prepare their defence.
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Mr Puigdemont travelled to Belgium at the weekend with other members of the dismissed Catalan administration and hired a lawyer. All of them refused to respond to questioning with the exception of former minister Villa, who spoke for about 40 minutes.
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