Judge 'delays' warrant for ousted Puigdemont

A Spanish judge will not issue a European arrest warrant for Catalonia’s ousted leader and four of his former ministers on Thursday, but could still do so on Friday, a court source has revealed.

La Vanguardia had reported that the order had already been made after Carles Puigdemont and members of his cabinet failed to comply with a summons ordering them to appear in a Madrid court.

However, Reuters reports that the arrest warrant will not be issued just yet, with a source telling the news agency: “The warrant will most likely be issued on Friday.”

It is believed the five politicians have sought refuge in Belgium, where Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer said he would “take some distance”.

After his no show in court, the president of the Spanish Supreme Court said it would be “normal” to issue a European arrest warrant.

Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer has since said his client would cooperate with the courts and Belgian police if necessary.

“If they ask, he will cooperate with Spanish and Belgian justice,” said Paul Bekaert, who ruled out the possibility of his client asking for asylum in Belgium, saying it was “off the table”.

:: Analysis – Puigdemont’s only hope is to paint himself as the victim

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont gives a news conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe in Brussels

Catalan leader faces rebellion charge

Twenty seccessionist leaders were summoned to two courts in Madrid to answer questions, but only 15 turned up.

Judge Carmen Lamela also ordered eight ministers who did adhere with the summons to be jailed unconditionally.

A ninth will be set free if he pays a bond of €50,000 (£38,290).

Thousands of protesters have since taken to the streets of Barcelona following the arrests.

The nine ministers’ lawyers, who plan to appeal, said those detained were “serene” and wanted the people of Catalonia to stay calm.

Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, representing five of them, said Thursday’s decision “lacked justification” and was “disproportionate”.

The Supreme Court adjourned hearings into former members of the Catalan parliament until 9 November to give them time to prepare a defence.

The National Court has also been questioning the ousted Catalan parliament members – with former regional government spokesman Jordi Turull and minister for territorial affairs Josep Rull appearing there on Thursday.

Former members of the Catalan government arrive at Spain's National High Court
Former members of the Catalan government arrive at Spain’s National High Court

Of the 15 who attended court hearings, all but one declined to answer questions from the state prosecutor.

An investigation could take years before it leads to a trial.

Mr Puigdemont, and 19 others, face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The crimes being investigated are punishable with up to 30 years in prison under Spanish law.

An arrest warrant would make it virtually impossible for Mr Puigdemont to stand in a snap election, called for 21 December, after the Catalonian government was dissolved by Spain in light of the vote for independence.

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Puigdemont's only hope is to play the victim

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