Spain issues arrest warrant for Catalan leader

04 November, 2017, 01:08 | Author: Katrina Soto
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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who has been threatened with arrest along with four of his separatist allies after failing to attend a high-court hearing in Madrid, has condemned the move by a Spanish judge as a "very serious attack on democracy" and a "coup against the elections".

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.

Charges include rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds in order to pursue independence for the autonomous region. Belgian federal prosecutors said they had received the arrest warrant and could question Puigdemont in coming days.

"I did not flee, but it's impossible to properly prepare" a legal defense while in Spain, he told the broadcaster.

The Spanish government has also called an early regional election for December 21.

Also in the interview he said that he was "willing to be a candidate" in the regional elections on December 21 and added that he could campaign from overseas.

Puigdemont travelled to Belgium with his allies to raise the case for statehood at the European Union institutions before Spain's general attorney announced his intention to pursue charges.

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The detention of the secessionist leaders and Puigdemont's journey to Belgium have given a new boost to the secessionist camp after cracks had appeared in its ranks.

In protest at the jailings, Catalan civic groups Asamblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium Cultural, whose leaders were imprisoned last month on sedition charges, called for a general strike on November 8 and a mass demonstration on November 11.

Another six Catalan leaders are due to testify on November 9 on the same charges.

One member of the dismissed cabinet, Santi Vila, was released after paying bail of 50,000 euros ($A78,000) on Friday.

The other eight were held without having bail set.

Vila resigned in protest a day before Catalonia's parliament voted in favor of the independence declaration.

He has said he wanted to stand as the leading candidate for Puigdemont's PdeCat (Catalan Democratic party) in the regional election.

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