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Spanish Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Exiled Catalan Leader

Spanish Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Exiled Catalan Leader
(AP)

Friday, 03 November 2017 11:42 AM

Spain’s National Court issued an international arrest warrant for self-exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, the government’s chief spokesman said, ramping up the pressure on the separatist campaign.

As a judicial crackdown undermines government attempts to salve emotions in the rebel region, the court in Madrid asked for Puigdemont to be detained along with other ousted members of the regional administration who have fled from Spanish justice, Inigo Mendez de Vigo said at a press conference in Madrid. Eight former officials were jailed by the court on Thursday as Puigdemont protested the “attack on democracy” from an undisclosed location in Belgium.

“The attitude of the government has always been to respect and enforce judicial decisions,” Mendez de Vigo said. “Sometimes you agree with them, and other times you don’t.”

Jailing the politicians for an illegal declaration of independence last month has reinvigorated the separatist movement just as the Spanish government was poised to consolidate its political victory. Activists in Barcelona were left angry, leaderless and divided last weekend when Puigdemont bolted just as Madrid seized control of the regional administration. Now they have a new rallying point.

“As the legitimate president, I demand the release of all the members of the Catalan government,” Puigdemont said Thursday in an address on Catalonia television. “This is a grave error.”

Pro-independence demonstrators took to Barcelona’s streets on Thursday and officials from Barcelona’s City Hall unfurled a banner that read “Freedom for political prisoners.” A defiant Puigdemont -- TV3 said he spoke from somewhere in Belgium -- told residents of Catalonia to prepare for a “long and ferocious” period of repression.

With Catalonian regional elections called for a few days before Christmas, a poll published Thursday by the El Espanol news website suggested that pro-independence candidates are set to win 68 seats, a slim majority in the 135-seat assembly.

While the European Union and governments around the world have refused to respond to separatist appeals, the latest move by the courts is focusing international attention on Spain’s efforts to shut down the movement.

“The disagreement about Catalonia’s future is political,” Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party and head of the semi-autonomous government, said on Twitter. “It should be resolved democratically - not by the jailing of political opponents.”

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Spain's National Court issued an international arrest warrant for self-exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, the government's chief spokesman said, ramping up the pressure on the separatist campaign.
spanish, court, arrest, warrant, catalan
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2017-42-03
Friday, 03 November 2017 11:42 AM
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