Catalans dismayed after Spain issues Puigdemont arrest warrant

BARCELONA, SPAIN (NOVEMBER 4, 2017) (REUTERS) – Catalans in Barcelona slammed the Spanish government on Saturday morning (November 4) after a court issued a European arrest warrant for their sacked president Carles Puigdemont.

The warrant, issued by Spain on Friday (November 3), charges Puigdemont with sedition and other charges, 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 (November 2) 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.

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.