Spanish prosecutor requests arrest warrant for former Catalan leader

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Spanish state prosecutor asked judge on Thursday afternoon to issue European arrest warrant for sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who was in Brussels currently.

The request for the arrest warrant also included former Catalan ministers Antoni Comin, Meritxell Serret, Lluis Puig and Clara Ponsati, who all remained in Belgium with Puigdemont after travelling from Barcelona last Friday.

The writ explains that Puigdemont has “publicly stated his intention of not appearing in court and has requested, as have Antonio Comin and Meritxell Serret, to address the court via video-conference, without offering any information about their location”.

“In light of these events, the court is called upon to order a national and international search and arrest warrant,” the Spanish Prosecutors office said in a statement.

Bail of 50,000 euros (58,368 U.S. dollars) was requested for former Catalan minister Santi Vila, who resigned from his office a day before the independence declaration was made.

Also on Thursday, eight former members of Puigdemont’s deposed government, including his former deputy Oriol Junqueras, appeared in Spain‘s High Court in Madrid, to answer questions from judge High Court Carmen Lamela.

Puigdemont and four more former ministers opted to remain in Brussels insisting they would not get a fair hearing in what was a “political trial”.

Puigdemont’s lawyer Paul Bekeart told reporters that the climate in Spain was “not good. It is better to have some distance”, but insisted that if asked, his client would “cooperate with Spanish and Belgian justice”.

However, Spanish prosecutors are against Puigdemont being allowed to testify by video-conference.

“When someone doesn’t appear after being cited by a judge to testify, in Spain or any other EU country, normally an arrest warrant is issued,” said Carlos Lesmes, Spain’s Supreme Court President.

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