Spanish judge jails eight ousted Catalan ministers

Spanish judge jails eight ousted Catalan ministers

Kerry Wise
November 3, 2017

Spain's High Court is likely to issue a warrant for the arrest of the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont after the pro-independence leader failed to appear at a court hearing on Thursday.

Eight sacked Catalan ministers have been remanded in custody by a Spanish high court judge over the region's push for independence.

"When someone doesn't appear after being cited by a judge to testify, in Spain or any other European Union country, normally an arrest warrant is issued", Supreme Court President Carlos Lesmes said, according to Reuters.

Former ministers in the deposed Catalan government arrive at court.

Puigdemont "will not go to Madrid" on Thursday because "he will not have a fair trial" in Spain, Bekaert pointed out in statements quoted by the Belgian TV station NOS and reproduced by media.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium on Monday.

"If they ask, he will cooperate with Spanish and Belgian justice", lawyer Paul Bekaert told Reuters after Puigdemont and his four associates ignored an order to appear before the High Court to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds relating to the region's secessionist drive.

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As members of the Catalan regional government spent their first night in jail in Spain, ousted president Carles Puigdemont was weighing his legal options in hiding in Belgium.

A spokesperson for Puigdemont said he would remain in Brussels with the other four ministers.

"President, enough is enough", the influential Catalan newspaper el Peridico, which has been sceptical of the case for independence, said on its front page on Wednesday.

However, nine other Catalan officials have turned up at the court in Madrid for questioning over the referendum staged in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.

They include regional parliament speaker and prominent pro-independence activist Carme Forcadell, and 14 ousted Catalan government ministers including Mr Puigdemont.

Eight of the nine were jailed without possibility of bail while they are investigated on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement following the regional parliament's declaration of secession from Spain last week.

The Supreme Court said the hearing of the six regional parliament board members was postponed until November 9 following a request by their lawyers.