Spain mulls int'l arrest warrant for Puigdemont


A Spanish judge has issued an worldwide arrest warrant for ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, one day after eight fellow members of the dissolved regional government were jailed in Madrid, the media reported.

Spanish prosecutors want to charge Puigdemont, holed up in Belgium, with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The prosecutor has asked the National Court judge to issue an global arrest warrant against them.

"(I will) study them and will hand them over to the investigating judge either Saturday, Sunday or even Monday", Van der Sypt told CNN on Friday night.

Belgium, where a European arrest warrant can be blocked for several mainly procedural reasons, will have a maximum of three months to decide whether to send Puigdemont back to Spain.

Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis in decade after Puigdemont's administration held an independence referendum on October 1, CNN reported.

But the longer Mr Puigdemont can delay his arrest and extradition, the greater chance he has of being a factor in the December 21 election that Spanish authorities have called as part of their temporary takeover of running the rebellious region. He also said that the snap election will not "be neutral, independent, normal", if the Catalan leadership is in jail.

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The former leader has said that he was not fleeing the Spanish court system but instead was seeking European support for his region's independence bid.

One member of the dismissed cabinet, Santi Vila, was released after paying bail of 50,000 euros ($58,300) on Friday.

Assemblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium Cultural have spearheaded the civil society efforts to achieve secession for the northeastern region.

Puigdemont's deputy and seven other deposed regional ministers were detained Thursday in Madrid. The next day, Spain's central government used extraordinary constitutional powers to fire Catalonia's government and dissolve its regional parliament.

The frustrated unilateral independence declaration of Catalonia has already damaged tourism and deterred investment.

In the Basque city of Bilbao in northern Spain, several thousand people marched Saturday despite the rain to protest the intervention of the Spanish government in Catalonia's self-rule.