A Spanish judge issued an EU arrest warrant Friday for Catalonia’s deposed separatist leader a day after he failed to appear for questioning over his role in the region’s tumultuous independence drive.
Spanish prosecutors want to charge Carles Puigdemont, who is holed up in Belgium, with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. On Thursday the 54-year-old ignored a summons to appear before the same judge in Madrid.
An EU arrest warrant was also issued for 4 Catalan ministers who also failed to show up and are also thought to be in Belgium. They, like Puigdemont, were dismissed by Spain’s central government a week ago, a court statement said.
On Thursday the same Spanish judge had Puigdemont’s deputy and seven other deposed regional ministers jailed pending a possible trial because of a risk that they might similarly abscond.
Speaking in an interview on Belgian television channel RTBF on Friday recorded before the widely expected warrant was issued, Puigdemont said he was not hiding from “real justice” but from a “clearly politicized” Spanish legal system.
He said;“I have told my lawyers to inform the Belgian justice authorities that I am completely at their disposal.”