Spain to is­sue ar­rest war­rant for Cata­lan leader

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD -

A judge in Madrid was set Fri­day to is­sue an EU ar­rest war­rant for Cat­alo­nia’s de­posed leader over his re­gion’s tu­mul­tuous in­de­pen­dence drive, in a move likely to take ten­sions to a new level in Spain’s worst politi­cal cri­sis in decades.

The war­rant for Car­les Puigde­mont, who is holed up in Bel­gium, was ex­pected a day af­ter a Span­ish judge threw a large chunk of Puigde­mont’s axed re­gional govern­ment be­hind bars over their role in Cat­alo­nia’s push for se­ces­sion.

Puigde­mont, 54, dis­missed last week as Cata­lan president by Spain’s govern­ment, failed to show on Thurs­day to the court over al­leged sedi­tion, re­bel­lion and mis­use of pub­lic funds, ac­cu­sa­tions he calls po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Judge Car­men Lamela, who on Thurs­day had Puigde­mont’s deputy Oriol Jun­queras and seven other de­posed re­gional min­is­ters de­tained pend­ing a po­ten­tial trial, will is­sue the war­rant “dur­ing the day Fri­day,” a ju­di­cial source said.

Puigde­mont’s lawyer, who in the past has helped Basque sep­a­ratists mil­i­tants chal­lenge Span­ish ex­tra­di­tion re­quests, told Flem­ish TV chan­nel VRT on Thurs­day his client would ap­peal the move.

The EU on Fri­day re­fused to in­ter­vene over the Euro­pean ar­rest war­rant Spain is set to is­sue, say­ing it was a mat­ter for the courts.

Cata­lan ef­forts to make the cri­sis an in­ter­na­tional is­sue have so far failed, and the EU has been stead­fast in its sup­port for Madrid through­out, in­sist­ing it is an in­ter­nal mat­ter for Spain.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesper­son An­nika Brei­dthardt re­it­er­ated that sup­port at a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day, de­flect­ing a bar­rage of ques­tions about Cat­alo­nia with the same re­sponse.

The Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion was roundly spurned across Europe, with Ger­many, France and Bri­tain re­ject­ing it and EU in­sti­tu­tions stick­ing to their sup­port for the govern­ment of Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy.

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