Spain Issues an International Warrant for Catalan Leaders

An international arrest warrant has been issued by a judge in Spain for the arrest of former Catalonia leader. This comes after the former leader refused to willingly return to Spain to make an appearance before the national court. The warrant was issued by a top judge currently sitting on the national court known as Judge Carmen Lamela. The judge has made it clear that she wants Carles Puigdemont and four other former cabinet members of the Catalonia government arrested. The arrest warrant was later sent to the public prosecutor in Belgium. The Spanish attorney general, on the other hand, has made it clear that he is interested in prosecuting 19 people from the former government including Mr. Puigdemont. They are being charged with declaring independence which is contrary to what the Spanish government wanted. As a result, eight of the 19 leaders were jailed without bail. A case for these leaders will be set at a later date. The decision to arrest Mr. Puigdemont now rests on the shoulders of Belgium’s judiciary. What remains apparent is that the process will carry on for more than one month. At the same time, this is seen as the beginning of a diplomatic wrangle between the two nations. It’s expected that the embattled leader alongside the four cabinet members will seek asylum in Belgium. Political tension is also a possibility considering that the Belgian coalition government is very fragile and consists of the Flemish politicians who are sympathetic to the Catalan movement.

Moments later, the Belgian federal prosecutors issued a statement through their spokesman Eric Van de Sijpt confirming that they had received the arrest warrant. The warrant arrived late on Friday evening. He further said that they would deliver the warrant to an investigative judge. The spokesman said that the decision whether to arrest the former leader and his four accomplices would be made by the judge. Mr. Sijpt explained that since the procedure is likely to draw an appeal from involved parties, it’s likely to take more than four weeks. However, there is still hope for the Catalan leaders according to Dirk Vanheule. Mr. Vanheule is a law professor specializing in international law at the University of Antwerp. He explained that these leaders could argue that the international warrant is not applicable is Belgium for several reasons. For instance, they could say that a charge of rebellion is not clear under the law in Belgium. They can also say that they are not sure they will receive a fair trial in Spain.

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