An international arrest warrant has been filed for Catalan’s leader

Carles Puigdemont
Carles Puigdemont. Daniel Biskup/BILD
  • The lawyer for sacked Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, says an arrest warrant has been issued for his client.
  • A court source denies this claim, though says an arrest warrant is likely to be issued shortly.
  • Spain has also jailed eight former Catalan ministers.

An international arrest warrant has reportedly been issued for sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

His lawyer, Paul Bekaert, made the announcement to Belgian state broadcaster on Thursday.

“I have just heard from my client that the warrant has been issued for the president and four of his ministers who are in Belgium,” Bekaert said.

A court source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters, however, that an arrest warrant had not yet been issued, though that is likely to occur on Friday.

Puigdemont, who previously said he was not afraid of being arrested, is currently in Brussels. He fled Spain just hours after charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement were filed against him and 14 Catalan politicians.

The Spanish government fired Puigdemont and the Catalan parliament after the region declared independence a week ago. The declaration was the result of a divisive independence referendum held in early October — a vote Spanish courts deemed illegal.

An extradition request for Puigdemont would place Brussels, the headquarters of the EU, in an uncomfortable position. The EU has remained largely silent on Catalonia’s push for independence but Belgium allows EU citizens to seek political asylum. The country also has its own Flemish separatists to contend with.

Earlier this week, Puigdemont said he would endeavour to run Catalonia from Brussels.

On Thursday, a Spanish judge dismissed bail for eight former Catalan ministers, sending them to jail. If found guilty of rebellion, the ministers could be imprisoned for up to 30 years.