MADRID — A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant Friday for former members of the Catalan Cabinet who were last seen in Brussels, including the ousted separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, who said he was prepared to run for his old job even while battling extradition in Belgium.
The National Court judge filed the request with the Belgian prosecutor to detain Puigdemont and his four aides, and issued separate international search and arrest warrants to alert Interpol in case they flee Belgium.
Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer has said that his client will fight extradition to Spain without seeking political asylum. Belgian federal prosecutors said they had received the arrest warrant and could question Puigdemont in coming days.
“We will study it, and put it in the hands of an investigating judge,” spokesman Eric Van Der Sijpt said. “We are not in any hurry.”
Puigdemont and the four others are being sought for five different crimes, including rebellion, sedition and embezzlement in a Spanish investigation into their roles in pushing for secession for Catalonia.
The officials flew to Brussels after Spanish authorities removed Puigdemont and his Cabinet from office last Saturday for declaring independence for Catalonia. The Spanish government has also called an early regional election for Dec. 21.
Puigdemont told a Belgian state broadcaster that he was in Belgium “ready to be a candidate” in the early polls and because he had lost faith in the Spanish justice system.
“We can run a campaign anywhere because we’re in a globalized world,” he told RTBF, adding that he was not in Belgium to “Belgianize Catalan politics.”
Source: Portland pressCatalan leader now a wanted man