Belgium ‘to study’ arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader

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A Spanish judge has issued a European warrant for the arrest of ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, his Belgian lawyer told Flemish television late Thursday.

Puigdemont, dismissed last week as Catalan president by the Spanish government and who has since been holed up in Belgium, would fight an eventual bid to extradite him, his lawyer Paul Bekaert told the VRT channel.

“I have just received word from my client that indeed it (the warrant) has been issued against the president and four other ministers who are in Belgium,” Bekaert said.

“Practically it means that the Spanish judiciary will now send an extradition request to federal prosecutors in Brussels,” he said.

Asked if Puigdemont will remain in Belgium, Bekaert said: “Of course. He has pledged his full cooperation with the Belgian authorities.”

Bekaert said his client would appeal should an extradition request be approved by a Belgian judge.

During Spain’s biggest crisis in decades, Judge Carmen Lamela earlier had Puigdemont’s deputy and seven other deposed regional ministers detained pending a potential trial for alleged sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Brussels will “study” a EU arrest warrant issued by Spain for Catalonia’s deposed leader, who is currently in Belgium, a spokesman for the country’s state prosecutor told AFP.

“We’re going to study it and then give it to a judge,” Eric Van der Sijpt said.

A Spanish judge issued a warrant for deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Friday after he failed to attend a court summons over his role in his region’s push to split from Spain.

Some ministers in Puigdemont’s former cabinet are also in Belgium and subject to the warrant.
Puigdemont and his ministers must now appear in front of a Belgian judge within 24 hours, where they will be read the charges against them.

The ousted regional leader, who says Catalonia has earned the right to declare independence from Spain following a disputed referendum last month, said Friday he is willing to cooperate with Belgian authorities.

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