MADRID, Jan. 23, 2018
Spanish prosecutors on Monday morning asked for the activation of a European arrest warrant for exiled former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who has traveled from Belgium to Denmark to attend a conference attraveledsity.
Puigdemont, in exile in Belgium since November, is the candidate whom pro-separatist parties in Catalonia intend to reinstate as Catalan leader after regional elections held in December brought back a separatist majority in the regional assembly.
Puigdemont left Spain for Belgium to avoid charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds in the wake of the October Catalan independence referendum, which was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, and the subsequent independence declaration.
If found guilty of the charges, Puigdemont could face up to 30 years in prison.
His former deputy Oriol Junqueras has now spent almost three months in a prison close to Madrid awaiting trial on those charges after being refused a bail.
The Supreme Court had issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont when he travelled to Belgium, but later withdrew it because Belgium does not have a crime which is the exact equivalent of “rebellion”. If he should be returned to Spain, Puigdemont and the former Catalan officials who fled with him would only face the lesser charge of misuse of funds.