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Spain issue arrest warrant for Catalan leader

05 November 2017

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.

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While Puigdemont and his four aides hid in Belgium, nine members of his deposed government complied with a summons to appear in a Madrid court.

The ousted leader of Catalonia remained the subject of a European arrest warrant Saturday as questions mounted over how long he would elude the Spanish justice system by staying undercover in Belgium and delaying extradition.

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Worldwide arrest warrants have also been issued for four of his associates.

The former Catalan leader, who is now in Belgium, has left Spain after authorities in Madrid dismissed him and his administration and set a date for a snap election in Catalonia over the declaration of the autonomous region's independence.

Earlier, Mr Puigdemont said he did not flee from Spain and insisted he "will not run from justice". Puigdemont's lawer said he would appeal any negative decision. The announcement added to anger and dismay in a second straight night of demonstrations in the wealthy north-eastern region, with protesters chanting and waving Catalan flags of red and yellow stripes with a white star.

Spain's deepest political crisis in decades flared up after the regional parliament in Catalonia voted to proclaim an independent republic following a referendum on October 1 that was declared illegal by the country's Constitutional Court.

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But the longer Puigdemont can delay his arrest and extradition, the greater chance he would have of being a factor in the December 21 election.

"Elections here can only happen here if we say they do", Rovira said.

The leaders of another separatist party, the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), met today in the southern French city of Perpignan and said they would make an announcement regarding the elections on November 12.

Parties that wish to stand together in a coalition in the polls must announce this by November 7.

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Belgian Prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said he has received the arrest warrants for Puigdemont and the others.

Spain issue arrest warrant for Catalan leader