Spain Could Issue An Arrest Warrant For Ousted Catalan Leader

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When nine members of the deposed Catalan government appeared before the high court as part of its investigation into alleged sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds, the judge had the option of releasing them, pending trial.

If the ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont fails to appear in court, the normal procedure would be to issue an arrest warrant, the president of Spain's Supreme Court said on Thursday.

The state prosecutor in Madrid later asked the court to issue national and European arrest warrants for Puigdemont and the four other ministers.

Puigdemont's lawyer Paul Bekaert told Reuters that his client would not travel to Spain where the political climate was "not good", but would cooperate with Spanish and Belgian justice.

Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for December 21.

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"I'm ashamed that they lock up opponents in my country", said Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, which opposes independence.

Another, Santi Vila, who stepped down from the Catalan cabinet before a unilateral declaration of independence last Friday and has since then been pushing for a negotiated solution with the government, was granted bail of €50,000.

A spokesperson for Puigdemont said he would remain in Brussels with the other four ministers.

On October 27th, the pro-independence majority in the northeastern region's parliament hurriedly approved a declaration of independence.

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