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06 November 2017, 01:23 | Floyd Cook
The tragic mishandling of Catalonia's independence
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.
A European Union arrest warrant was also issued for four other Catalan ministers who failed to show up and are also thought to be in Belgium, a court statement said.
The fight between Spain and Catalonia's separatists reached a Belgian judge on Sunday after the region's deposed leader and four ex-ministers surrendered in Brussels to face possible extradition to Madrid for allegedly plotting a rebellion.
Puigdemont, 54, dismissed last week as Catalan president by Spain's government, failed to show up on Thursday to be grilled by the judge over alleged sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds, accusations he calls politically motivated. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked Puigdemont and dismissed Catalonia's parliament, calling a regional election for December 21.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy invoked constitutional powers last month to reassert his authority over Catalonia and fire Puigdemont and his government.
Puigdemont's lawyer in Belgium also said the arrest warrant had been prepared, but there has not yet been official confirmation from Spain's government.
The five presented themselves to federal police at around 9 a.m. (0800 GMT; 3 a.m. EST), Brussels prosecutor's office spokesman Gilles Dejemeppe.
"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. A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail.
Carmen Lamela, a judge in Spain's National Court, asked the Belgian prosecutor's office to arrest Puigdemont and four ministers in the dissolved Catalan government who ignored a court order to appear before a judge Thursday.
"If we add the issue of independence, we won't get as many people to support us", said Mas, who was the first Catalan leader to harness the political momentum for secession. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani denounces the Catalan independence referendum as illegal, saying "No one will ever recognize Catalonia as an independent country". The declaration is deemed mostly symbolic because it is unlikely Spain or the worldwide community will recognize an independent Catalonia.
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