Spanish judge orders arrest of ousted Catalan leader - La Vanguardia

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

Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont, fired by central Spanish authorities, has confirmed that along with some members of his disbanded government remain in Brussels waiting a fair trial.

Puigdemont fled Spain and appeared in Brussels on Monday.

"It is better to take some distance", Paul Bekaert told Reuters, adding that "the climate is not good".

Twenty regional politicians, including sacked regional government president Carles Puigdemont, were called to appear Thursday after the chief prosecutor demanded charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement be pressed.

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The ministers attempted to hold an independence referendum last month, however those trying to vote clashed with police as the government deemed it illegal.

The struggle has divided Catalonia itself and caused deep resentment across the rest of Spain. With Puigdemont and four others in Belgium, only 15 turned up.

"When someone doesn't appear after being cited by a judge to testify, in Spain or any other European Union country, normally an arrest warrant is issued", Supreme Court President Carlos Lesmes said, according to Reuters.

"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.

However, they have requested the possibility of bail for one of them.

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A lawyer for several of the jailed Catalan leaders said they would appeal against the judge's decision.

According to AFP, the charges of which the lawmakers have been accused by prosecutors of, that is, sedition and rebellion over the region's independence drive, carry sentences of up to 15 and 30 years in jail respectively.

They include regional parliament speaker and prominent pro-independence activist Carme Forcadell, and 14 ousted Catalan government ministers including Mr Puigdemont.

The Supreme Court said the hearing of the six regional parliament board members was postponed until November 9 following a request by their lawyers.

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