Spain's National Court jails former Catalan ministers as crackdown continues

Carles Puigdemont

Catalan leaders due before Madrid court on rebellion charge

The prosecutor has asked the National Court judge to issue an worldwide arrest warrant against them. That same day, Spain's attorney general said Puigdemont and other senior government officials were accused of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.

Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont, fired by central Spanish authorities, has confirmed that along with some members of his disbanded government remain in Brussels waiting a fair trial.

'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, ' lawyer Paul Bekaert told VRT.

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Mr Puigdemont travelled to Belgium at the weekend with other members of the dismissed Catalan administration and hired a lawyer.

"The legitimate government of Catalonia has been sent to jail for its ideas and for having been faithful to the mandate approved by the parliament of Catalonia", he said.

An arrest warrant would make it virtually impossible for Mr Puigdemont to stand in a snap election, called for 21 December, after the Catalonian government was dissolved by Spain in light of the vote for independence.

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The ousted leader reacted to the events at Spain's National Court in Madrid as thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest at the jailings.

Puigdemont's no-show was the latest act of defiance from the renegade leader, who has caused consternation in Madrid following the referendum and the Catalan parliament's declaration of unilateral independence weeks later. The probe could lead to charges of rebellion and sedition.

All of them refused to respond to questioning with the exception of former minister Villa, who spoke for about 40 minutes.

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