Former Catalan leader faces European Union arrest warrant

Former Catalan leader faces European Union arrest warrant

Former Catalan leader faces European Union arrest warrant

Spain on Friday issued an arrest warrant on sedition and other charges against Carles Puigdemont, tightening the judicial net around the former Catalan leader who went Brussels after his government was sacked over a declaration of independence, reports Reuters.

Since then, eight politicians and two activists have been jailed pending trial, and arrest warrants have been issued for five others, including Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to try to run a government in exile.

The broadcaster says the four deposed cabinet ministers also reported to police. It would also make his participation in a snap Catalonian regional election called by Madrid on December 21 unlikely.

October 28: Catalonia's ousted leader, Puigdemont, calls for peaceful opposition to Spain's decision to take direct control over the region.

The lawyer, Paul Bekaert, told The Associated Press Puigdemont would turn himself in to police if an arrest warrant was ultimately issued.

"It had been looking positive for Rajoy as he seemed to be trying to restore order in Catalonia in a restrained way", said Caroline Gray, a lecturer in politics and Spanish at Aston University in the United Kingdom who specialises in nationalist movements. The ninth spent a night behind bars before posting bail and being released.

Hundreds of pro-secession Catalans gathered in town squares across the region Sunday to put up posters in support of independence and to demand the release of the jailed separatists.

They had fled to Belgium this week after being removed from power by Spanish authorities as part of an extraordinary crackdown to impede the region's illegal declaration of independence. The declaration is deemed mostly symbolic because it is unlikely Spain or the global community will recognize an independent Catalonia.

Fueled by questions of cultural identity and economic malaise, secessionist sentiment has skyrocketed to reach roughly half of the 7.5 million residents of Catalonia, a prosperous region that is proud of its Catalan language spoken along with Spanish.

"We want to send a message to Europe that even if our president is still in Brussels and all our government now is in Madrid jailed, that the independence movement still isn't finished", 24-year-old protester Adria Ballester said in Barcelona.

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