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

Carles Puigdemont.

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Carles Puigdemont.
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Daniel Biskup/BILD

    The lawyer for the sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says an arrest warrant has been issued for his client. A court source denies this claim but 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 the sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

His lawyer, Paul Bekaert, made the announcement to the 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 but was likely to on Friday.

Puigdemont, who previously said he was not afraid of being arrested, is 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 of Catalonia declared independence from Spain a week ago. The declaration was the result of a divisive Catalan independence referendum held in early October – a vote Spanish courts deemed illegal.

An extradition request for Puigdemont would place Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, 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 endeavor 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.