For­mer Cata­lan leader turned him­self in af­ter Spain is­sued ar­rest war­rant

Costa Almería News - - Regional And National News -

By Oliver McIn­tyre DE­POSED Cataluña pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont and four of his for­mer cab­i­net mem­bers have been sched­uled for an ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing in Bel­gium on Novem­ber 17 af­ter they turned them­selves in to au­thor­i­ties there last week fol­low­ing Spain’s is­suance of a war­rant for their ar­rest.

Af­ter ap­pear­ing be­fore a judge, all five were re­leased and or­dered to re­main in Bel­gium pend­ing the ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing.

pan­ish au­thor­i­ties had is­sued the Euro­pean ar­rest war­rant af­ter Puigde­mont and the for­mer cab­i­net mem­bers failed to ap­pear for a hear­ing at Spain’s High Court last Thurs­day, where they had been called to tes­tify as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged re­bel­lion, sedi­tion and other of­fences in re­la­tion to Cataluña’s il­le­gal dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence.

Of the nine other for­mer mem­bers of Puigde­mont’s cab­i­net who did ap­pear at the hear­ing, eight were or­dered to jail as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues while one, Santi Vila, was re­leased on €50,000 bail. Vila had re­signed from Puigde­mont’s gov­ern­ment the day be­fore the re­gional par­lia­ment on Oc­to­ber 27 uni­lat­er­ally de­clared Cataluña’s in­de­pen­dence, which prompted the Span­ish gov­ern­ment to take ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of the re­gion, dis­solve the Cata­lan par­lia­ment and call early re­gional elec­tions for De­cem­ber 21.

The for­mer speaker of the Cata­lan Par­lia­ment, Carme For­cadell, and five other par­lia­men­tary of­fi­cials, who are also un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for re­bel­lion and sedi­tion, were sched­uled to tes­tify last Thurs­day at the Supreme Court, but the court agreed to post­pone their hear­ing un­til today, Novem­ber 9, to give them more time to pre­pare.

While for­mer Cata­lan pres­i­dent Puigde­mont’s ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing is set for Novem­ber 17, the ap­peals he can file with higher courts in Bel­gium could draw out the process at least two months, tak­ing it be­yond the date of the re­gional elec­tions in Cataluña. Mean­while, he has said he will be cam­paign­ing for those elec­tions from Bel­gium.

On Tues­day he held an event with some 200 sep­a­ratist may­ors from Cataluña who trav­elled to Brus­sels to show their sup­port for him. Speak­ing at the event, he de­nounced what he de­scribed as "fas­cism" in Spain, and called on EU lead­ers to ac­cept what­ever re­sults come out of the Cata­lan elec­tions.

One of Puigde­mont's jailed for­mer cab­i­net mem­bers, Oriol Jun­queras, who was vice-pres­i­dent of the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment, has re­quested that the High Court re­lease him and his seven col­leagues in or­der to al­low them to cam­paign for the elec­tions.

Through his lawyer, he ar­gued that their con­fine­ment is “pro­foundly dis­pro­por­tion­ate”.

Both Jun­queras’ ERC party and Puigde­mont’s PDe CAT party, which were part­ners in the sep­a­ratist Cata­lan gov­ern­ment, have said they plan to in­clude all of the jailed cab­i­net mem­bers, and those await­ing the ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing in Bel­gium, on their can­di­date lists for the elec­tions.

How­ever, the two par­ties will not run to­gether as a coali­tion in the elec­tions as they did last time.

Mean­while, the eco­nomic im­pacts of the sovereignty cri­sis ap­pear to be emerg­ing in Cataluña. In Oc­to­ber, for the first time in years, the re­gion posted the high­est un­em­ploy­ment in­crease in Spain in ab­so­lute terms, with 14,700 new job­less.

The eco­nomic im­pact ex­tends to broader Spain as well, with the gov­ern­ment hav­ing re­duced its GDP growth pre­dic­tions for 2018, from 2.6% down to 2.3%.

Car­les Puigde­mont with sep­a­ratist may­ors who trav­elled to Brus­sels from Cataluña

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