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Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont arrested in Germany

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Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont arrested in Germany

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:46 pm

Catalonia crisis: Sacked ministers held in Spanish jails

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

Prosecutors had asked the judge to detain eight of the nine former regional government members who turned up for questioning in Madrid.

They are accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Prosecutors are also seeking a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

The request also covers four other dismissed Catalan ministers who did not show up in court in Madrid as requested, but have been in Belgium since Monday.

Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on 1 October in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.

Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for 21 December.

This came after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare the independence of the affluent north-eastern region. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence.

Those detained are:

    Former Deputy Vice President Oriol Junqueras

    Former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn

    Former Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva

    Former Justice Minister Carles Mundó

    Former Labour Minister Dolors Bassa

    Former Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull

    Former Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull

    Former Culture Minister Meritxell Borras

A ninth official, ex-Business Minister Santi Vila, was granted bail at the request of prosecutors. He resigned before the Catalan parliament voted for independence last Friday.

Catalan political parties and civic groups condemned the judicial move, while thousands of people gathered outside the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, demanding that they be freed.

In a statement broadcast on Catalan TV from an undisclosed location in Belgium, Mr Puigdemont described the detention of the eight ex-ministers as "an act that breaks with the basic principles of democracy".

He added: "I demand the release of the ministers and the vice-president."

Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court. Their hearings have been postponed until 9 November.

Mr Puigdemont, who was spotted in a Brussels cafe on Thursday, has said he will not return to Spain unless he and four of his fellow sacked colleagues receive guarantees of a fair trial. He did not specify his exact demands.

Belgium's federal prosecutor has said the law will be applied once an arrest warrant is received, according to Efe news agency.

Mr Puigdemont's lawyer said the climate was "not good" for him to appear in court, but he also said his client would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium.

The man who wants to break up Spain

In addition to Mr Puigdemont, prosecutors have asked Spain's high court judge to issue European arrest warrants for the following Catalan officials:

    Meritxell Serret, former agriculture minister

    Antoni Comín, former health minister

    Lluís Puig, former culture minister

    Clara Ponsatí, former education minister

EU arrest warrant: What happens next?

If Spain's high court judge issues a warrant, a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) will be sent to Belgian prosecutors, who have 24 hours to decide whether the paperwork is correct. If they do, they then have 15 days to arrest Mr Puigdemont and the four others. If one or all of them appeals against it, that process could last another 15 days.

Belgium has a maximum of 60 days to return the suspects to Spain after arrest. But if the suspects do not raise legal objections, a transfer could happen within a few days.

A country can reject an EU arrest warrant if it fears that extradition would violate the suspect's human rights. Discrimination based on politics, religion or race is grounds for refusal. So are fears that the suspect would not get a fair trial.

There is an agreed EU list of 32 offences - in Article Two of the EAW law - for which there is no requirement for the offence to be a crime in both countries. In other words, any of those offences can be a justification for extradition, provided the penalty is at least three years in jail.

However, neither "sedition" nor "rebellion" - two of the Spanish accusations against the Catalan leaders - are on that list.

..................................................

Mr Puigdemont's handling of the crisis has drawn criticism among some other Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticising him for creating "yet more bewilderment".

Spain's central bank warned on Thursday of the "significant risks and economic costs" resulting from the crisis, and that Catalonia's economy could fall into recession.

Early numbers suggest that the vital tourism sector of the region has already been affected by the ongoing uncertainty.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41850094
Last edited by Anthea on Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont arrested in Germany

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Re: Spain issued arrest warrant for Catalon leader Puigdemon

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:42 am

750,000 protesters descend on Barcelona
demanding release of jailed separatist leaders


Hundreds of thousands of Catalan independence supporters clogged central Barcelona on Saturday to demand the release of separatist leaders held in prison for their roles in the region's banned independence drive.

Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders' families made speeches.

Catalonia's two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan "Freedom for the political prisoners", after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month.

Barcelona's police said that 750,000 people attended the rally. The protest is seen as a test of how the independence movement's support has fared since the Catalan government declared independence on 27 October, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire its members, dissolve the regional parliament and call new elections for December.

"Look at all the people here," said 63-year-old Pep Morales, who was confident separatist parties would win in the 21 December election. "The independence movement is still going strong."

Many of the families, young people and pensioners there had travelled from across Catalonia to attend the march. They carried photos with the faces of those in prison and waved the red-and-yellow striped Catalan independence flag.

The Spanish High Court has jailed eight former government members, along with the leaders of the grassroots groups the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, while investigations into their roles continue.

The court last week issued arrest warrants on charges of rebellion and sedition for ex-regional president Carles Puigdemont, who flew to Brussels after being deposed, and four other former government members who went with him.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court released on bail the Catalan parliament's speaker Carme Forcadell and four other lawmakers, who enabled the declaration of independence by overseeing a parliamentary vote. Another lawmaker was released without bail.

Ms Forcadell was released after agreeing to renounce any political activity that went against the Spanish constitution, according to the court's ruling, in effect banning her from campaigning for independence in the December election.

Those terms threaten to undermine the independence movement just as cracks are starting to appear and tensions rise between the grassroots and their leaders.

The PDeCAT party of Mr Puigdemont has failed to agree on a united ticket to contest the election with another secessionist party, denting the pro-independence camp's hopes of pressing ahead with its bid to split from Spain after the election.

On Saturday, the separatist Esquerra Republicana party said the ousted Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, one of those in jail, would be its candidate in December and would campaign from behind bars.

Pepita Sole, a 61-year-old pensioner in the crowd on Saturday draped in a flag, said she understood the independence declaration was symbolic but now wanted the real thing.

"They better understand that we're not faking," she said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 50116.html
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Re: Catalonia: 750,000 protesters demand release of leaders

PostAuthor: Benny » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:54 pm

A Spanish arrest warrant for the Catalan leaders has now been withdrawn:


http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/05/europ ... index.html

/B

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Re: Catalonia: 750,000 protesters demand release of leaders

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:51 pm

Benny wrote:A Spanish arrest warrant for the Catalan leaders has now been withdrawn:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/05/europ ... index.html

/B

Thank you for the update Benny - I had almost forgotten Carles Puigdemont and his friends :ymapplause:

The Spanish supreme court has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for the ousted president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failure of his attempt to secure independence for the autonomous Spanish region following a referendum on October 1. The referendum had been ruled illegal.

Judge Pablo Llarena, who is in charge of the case, also withdrew warrants for the arrest of four other Catalan politicians who fled Spain with Puigdemont: Antoni Comin, Lluis Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsati.

The decision does not mean that Puigdemont, who faces charges of rebellion, would not be arrested if he returned to Spain, where he is still wanted by judicial authorities.

Campaigning began Tuesday in Catalonia for fresh regional elections on December 21.

On Monday, a Belgian court said it would rule on December 14 whether to extradite Puigdemont whilst a court in Spain decided to keep the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and three other senior Catalan politicians in jail on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

According to the statement released by the Spanish court, Llarena argued that the European warrant would complicate the overall probe into Catalan leaders.

He said under European law the Belgian court could reject some of the reasons behind the warrant, which could possibly limit the charges brought against Puigdemont and the four others and create inequalities with Catalan leaders on trial in Spain.
It was not immediately clear if Puigdemont would remain in Belgium or return to Spain to face charges there.


Sadly, a great many so-called leaders stir things up in their own country and then run away leaving others to face the consequences X(
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Benny » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:33 am

"Sadly, a great many so-called leaders stir things up in their own country and then run away leaving others to face the consequences."

So true! Well put!

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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:34 am

Catalonia’s New Conflict Echoes in the Halls of an Old Prison

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Catalonia is no stranger to political strife. The Spanish government’s clampdown on the northeastern region’s independence drive is only the latest conflict to visit Catalans.

And if there is one place where the archaeology of those many conflicts can be uncovered, it is in the cells of the Modelo, a century-old prison in the heart of Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital.

The Catalan authorities closed the prison in June, but as the most recent political conflict intensified, they have been highlighting its history.

After the Modelo was emptied of its last prisoners, it was host to an exhibition curated by Agustí Alcoberro, a historian who is also one of the main separatist leaders of Catalonia.

The exhibition attracted over 80,000 visitors between July and the end of November, when it closed. But it also received some severe criticism for its attention to famous prisoners who fit Catalonia’s history of separatism and social upheaval, rather than others.

“Over all, its account is grotesque, tendentious and regrettable,” wrote Francesc Valls, a journalist, in the newspaper El País.

Mr. Alcoberro himself entered the Modelo as a 16-year-old activist in 1975, by which time he had already joined a clandestine separatist group. He was released at the end of that year, a month after the death of Spain’s dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco, and later benefited from Spain’s political amnesty law of 1977.

“It’s worth remembering that Spain is a country where neither Franco nor any other leader has ever admitted to having political prisoners,” he said.

Such comparisons have rankled Spain’s government and most mainstream parties, who insist that the 20 Catalan separatist politicians accused of rebellion — some of whom have been remanded in custody — are being prosecuted for violations of Spain’s Constitution.

Long before Carles Puigdemont and other separatist leaders sought to secede from Spain in recent months, Catalonia played a central and often turbulent part in Spanish politics.

Much of this history of political upheaval led to the cells of the Modelo, which has been “the mirror of the social and political conflicts of Catalonia in the 20th century,” said Joan B. Culla, a Catalan historian.

While several generations of activists and politicians were imprisoned for their beliefs, the Modelo was also sometimes their safe haven, protecting them from the greater violence outside, particularly during the Spanish Civil War, Mr. Culla said.

Opened in 1904 on a plot of land that was at the time on the outskirts of Barcelona, the Modelo was designed to be just that: a model center for preventive detention. Each of its 800 prisoners was meant to have his own cell within an asterisk-shaped building with a circular center, allowing guards to see all the way down each wing from a central surveillance post.

But Barcelona’s rapid expansion left the Modelo occupying two blocks of a residential district. As the city turned into a hotbed of political and labor conflicts, the Modelo overflowed with inmates, from violent criminals to trade unionists, anarchists, communists and revolutionary intellectuals.

During the Civil War of the 1930s, the Modelo received over 13,000 inmates. Many were supporters of Franco’s 1936 military coup, which failed in Barcelona and Madrid, even as Franco’s soldiers made rapid headway in other parts of Spain.

When Franco finally won the war three years later, some of his Modelo supporters became important figures in his regime.

Among them was Santiago Udina Martorell, a politician who helped oversee Barcelona’s economic development in the 1960s.

Another right-wing politician, Josep Maria de Porcioles, was also detained in the Modelo before the war. He became Barcelona’s longest-serving mayor under Franco.

Franco, for his part, replenished the Modelo with his own political opponents, as well as with gays and some artists whose work contravened the Catholic dogma of his regime.

In a curious twist, the prison’s own chaplain commissioned Helios Gómez Rodríguez, an anarchist painter and poet, to turn his cell into a chapel, with a painted fresco of a Gypsy Virgin surrounded by black angels. (Most of the fresco was later whitewashed.)

Cell No. 443 was that of Salvador Puig Antich, the last political activist executed by Franco’s regime, in March 1974. He was garroted in a room where parcels were delivered to the prison.

As soon as Franco died, the Modelo was seen as unworthy of a new Spain, an unwanted symbol of a crowded and unhealthy prison system that Spain’s restored democracy promised to overhaul.

A proposal to close the prison was made in 1977, two years after Franco’s death, by Spain’s prime minister at the time, Adolfo Suárez. The Modelo by then had become the scene of major revolts, exacerbated by widespread heroin use among inmates.

However, it took another 40 years for politicians to fulfill pledges to close the Modelo. In June, the Catalan authorities transferred the last inmates to other penitentiaries.

Next month, Barcelona’s city government is set to take over the premises. Nearly 5 million euros have been earmarked to transform the Modelo into housing units, as well as a public park and a new historical memorial.

The project could take years — and perhaps spark a new round of controversy.

Joan Queralt, a professor of criminal law at the University of Barcelona, said he hoped the memorial would be designed as “a museum denouncing the kind of prisons that we’ve kept going for so long, marked by poverty and violence, rather than only about Catalan political resistance.”

For now, the closing of the Modelo requires the relocation of about 550 staff members to other Catalan prisons.

In an upstairs gallery, a group of cleaners on their morning break said they worried about finding another job because, unlike most other workers, they were hired by an outside contractor.

Since the last inmates left in June, a dozen cleaners have been sweeping empty cells, which means “less work but also less satisfaction,” said Shirley Chávez, a cleaner.

“It might sound weird, but I felt more useful when I was sometimes wiping away blood and vomit,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/worl ... oners.html

It would seem that Catalonia is still recognized as an almost independent entity :-?
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:39 am

Spanish court orders seizure of ex-Catalan leader's home

Spain's Court of Auditors ordered the seizure of former Catalan president Artur Mas's home to cover costs generated by the nonbinding independence referendum his government organised.

In September the court had ordered Mas and eight other top Catalan officials to pay 4.8 million euros ($5.6 million) with interest of 400,000 euros to cover the expenses of the ballot, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court.

But they have managed to pay just 2.9 million euros so far, prompting the court to order the seizure of assets they had put up as a guarantee, a spokeswoman for the court said.

Besides Mas's Barcelona home, the court seized half of a home belonging to former Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs in Taradell, near the Catalan capital, the spokeswoman said.

It also seized properties belonging to three former regional ministers in Mas's government.

Mas, Catalonia's president from 2010 to 2016, has said the order to repay the costs of the 2014 referendum lacks "any kind of legal basis" and is aimed at trying to "intimidate" separatists.

His successor, Carles Puigdemont, pushed ahead with a banned independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1, which was marred by a violent police crackdown against voting, and which led the Catalan parliament to declare independence on October 27.

Spain's central government subsequently dismissed Puigdemont's government, suspended Catalonia's autonomy and called an early election in the region for December 21.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium at he end of October, fleeing charges sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds over his government's independence drive.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/worl ... cle/509824
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:00 am

Catalonia’s pro-independence parties win parliamentary
election dealing blow to Spanish government


The three pro-independence parties in Catalonia won the majority of seats in a parliamentary election in the region Thursday, setting the stage for another showdown with the central government in Madrid.

With a record-breaking turnout of more than 80 percent, Catalans dealt Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, a major setback as the secessionist leaders stood poised to return to power in Barcelona, among them former regional president Carles Puigdemont, now in exile in Brussels.

Voters packed polling stations to pick a new legislature and to answer again an old and bitterly divisive question: Did they want to remain a part of Spain or seek independence?

With 99 percent of the ballots counted, the three pro-independence parties had taken 48 percent of the vote, while the unionist parties and a few smaller parties had garnered 52 percent.

But the pro-independence parties were set to claim 70 seats in the regional parliament with those numbers, giving them a majority in the 135-seat chamber. The unionists and other parties took 65 seats.

The independistas garnered those seats thanks to an electoral college-style system that gives added weight to votes cast in less populated areas — the traditional strongholds of Catalan nationalist identity. The system is intended to balance out the populated urban areas with rural communities, thus affording parliamentary representation to regional groups even though they might lack a popular majority.

The pro-unity Citizens Party was poised to come in first in terms of votes but is expected to be unable to form a government. The pro-independent bloc’s majority mean it will most likely form the new government.

The balloting proceeded calmly across the region, unlike the chaotic referendum that was conducted in October despite being declared illegal by the country’s constitutional court. There were no reports of significant irregularities. Turnout was confirmed at a record-high 81 percent.

Thursday’s election comes less than two months after 2 million Catalans chose to secede from Spain and their leaders unilaterally declared independence, prompting the Spanish prime minister to dissolve the rebellious regional legislature and call an early election.

Rajoy’s publicly stated hope was for a legal and orderly vote in which the region’s secessionists would be swept aside. He failed. His own Popular Party also lost seven seats in the election.

Miquel Iceta, the Catalan Socialists’ candidate, celebrated the huge turnout. “The greater the participation, the more the joy for all democrats,” he said.

At one polling place in an upscale neighborhood in Barcelona, voters on both sides of the independence issue confessed they felt more fatigue than excitement. Many said they were disturbed by the deep rift that has emerged in Catalan society.

“It feels like Catalonia is totally broken,” said Ines Corrales, 19, a student who had plastered a Spanish flag sticker on her motorbike helmet. She said she voted for the Cuidadanos, or Citizens, party, which is opposed to independence.

Corrales said that even her childhood friends had ribbed her for not supporting the separatists, calling her a fascist.

“I was never for independence, though I love Catalonia,” said Javier Sedo, 81, a pensioner with a cane. “I believe the power of Spain is the union of its many nations.”

Sedo, who joked that he wished his country were more like the United States of Spain, said he had voted for the socialists.

A father and son, Ramiro and Guillermo Salina, ages 59 and 21, came out to vote together. They supported two different pro-independence parties.

“I want to see a negotiation toward independence,” the father said. His son volunteered, “I just want independence.”

Did they think they would see a sovereign Catalonia?

They didn’t, not anytime soon.

“I think we will have to vote on this issue again and maybe again,” Ramiro Salina said.

Many voters who oppose a breakaway Catalonia punched the ballot for the centrist, reformist Citizens party, which garnered the most votes, and will serve in the opposition.

In an interview with the news outlet El Pais, the leader of the Citizens Party, Ines Arrimadas, warned before the election that if the separatists were to win, “everything will repeat itself like a deja vu” and that Madrid and Barcelona would again find themselves locked in confrontation, with secessionist leaders unable to assume their posts because they are in jail or in exile.

It was not only the Spanish government that sought to stop the secessionists. Most of Spain and its powerful business groups oppose an independent Catalonia.

European leaders, too, have made clear they would not recognize an independent Catalonia and want the matter settled and the situation returned to “constitutional normalcy,” as Rajoy puts it.

Yet there was little normal about this election.

Puigdemont, the former president of the Catalonia region, Puigdemont, fled into self-exile in Belgium in late October.

Spanish prosecutors dropped their request for Puigdemont’s extradition, but the separatist leader still faces arrest for rebellion if he returns to Spain.

Spanish news media reported that the national police were keeping a close eye on the border with France to see whether Puigdemont attempts to return.

Meanwhile, former vice president Oriol Junqueras sits behind bars in the national prison outside Madrid, as prosecutors decide whether to charge him with sedition, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. His party, the Catalan Republican Left came in third place Thursday.

Rolfe reported from Madrid. Raul Gallego Abellan in Barcelona contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eu ... 0ef28e4ea4
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:27 pm

Judge refuses international arrest warrant for Puigdemont

A Spanish judge has rejected a petition from the country’s prosecutor to ask Danish authorities to arrest ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont arrived Monday in Copenhagen from Brussels to speak at the University of Copenhagen. He is expected to meet with Danish lawmakers on Tuesday.

The trip is Puigdemont’s first outside Belgium since he fled there to avoid a Spanish probe for his role in an illegal— and unsuccessful— secession bid for Catalonia in October.

Spain’s foreign minister says that “for the moment” ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is free to move in Europe outside of Spain, adding that his arrest was a matter for judges to decide.

Puigdemont flew Monday to Copenhagen from Belgium, where he has been since fleeing a Spanish investigation into the Catalan parliament’s secession declaration last year.

Spain’s prosecutors promptly asked a judge to issue a warrant for his arrest but the judge has yet to decide.

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said in Brussels that “Mr. Puigdemont is subject to a process in Spain. Outside, for the moment, his movements are free within the European Union, but we’ll see.”

Spanish courts initially sought Puigdemont’s extradition from Belgium but canceled that petition amid concerns that Belgium might send him back but restrict the crimes with which he could be charged.

The speaker of Catalonia’s parliament has proposed former regional leader Carles Puigdemont as candidate to form a government, despite his status as a fugitive from Spanish justice.

Puigdemont arrived in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, on Monday to talk at a university there and meet Danish lawmakers. It is his first trip outside of Belgium since he left Spain dodging a judicial investigation into an illegal — and unsuccessful — independence declaration in late October.

Spain’s state prosecutor is seeking his arrest in Denmark. A Spanish judge is yet to rule on the European warrant.

Catalan Parliament Speaker Roger Torrent says that Puigdemont is the only candidate with enough backing to attempt a government following regional elections last month.

Torrent says he has written asking Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to meet and talk about the “abnormal situation” in Catalonia.

Spain’s state prosecutor has set in motion the process to arrest Catalonia’s former leader in Denmark, where he has arrived to attend a debate.

The prosecutor’s office says it has asked the Supreme Court to approve a European warrant for his arrest. It’s unclear if Judge Pablo Llarena will grant it. In December, Llarena withdrew a similar order, concerned that Brussels would send Puigdemont back to Spain but restrict the crimes with which he could be charged.
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:23 pm

Sacked Catalan leader holds Brussels meeting despite Madrid opposition

Catalonia’s ousted president Carles Puigdemont met Wednesday with the speaker of the region’s parliament in Brussels despite efforts by Spain’s central government to prevent the talks.

Puigdemont had originally been due to meet with Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent and four other members of his sacked government at Catalonia’s trade mission in Brussels.

But they were forced to move the meeting to another nearby location after Spain’s central government ordered Catalonia’s representative in Brussels not to allow it to take place at the mission, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

“The representative of the Catalan government in Brussels has been instructed not to allow this meeting to take place in the building of the Catalan diplomatic mission,” the source told AFP just before the meeting was due.

Puigdemont is set to hold a press conference after the meeting ends at around 1pm (1200 GMT).
The gathering comes just two days after Torrent - who is also pro-independence - proposed Puigdemont as president of Catalonia following a snap election in December in which separatist parties again won an absolute majority.

But Puigdemont, who faces arrest over his independence push if he returns to Spain, has to figure out how he can be officially voted in at a parliamentary session due by the end of the month.

He has said he could be sworn in from Brussels, a plan Spain’s central government opposes. He has also said he would rather return to Spain but the central government vowed to order his arrest.

Madrid sacked Puigdemont and his entire government after the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence in late October.

Charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, he has been living in Belgium in self-imposed exile since the end of October.

Catalonia’s official representative in Brussels has been under the authority of Madrid since Spain’s central government placed the region under its direct control following the independence bid.

“We reserve the right to study the legal implications of this situation”, a spokesman for Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia party, Joan Maria Pique, said in Brussels Wednesday.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/w ... ition.html
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Re: Catalonia: president Carles Puigdemont still in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:37 pm

Catalonia postpones vote for new president in stand-off with Madrid
By Sam Edwards

Catalonia postponed the election of a new regional president on Tuesday until further notice after Spain's highest court said the sole nominee, separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, was ineligible while he remains a fugitive from justice in Belgium.

The industrial northeastern region's drive for a split from Spain has led it to clash with the central government in Madrid and the judiciary, which say a declaration of independence is against the country's 39-year-old constitution.

Puigdemont, speaking in a recorded message from Belgium posted on social networks late on Tuesday, said he was disappointed at the postponed vote and said he was the only possible candidate for regional president.

"No other candidate is possible," he said.

Earlier, hundreds of pro-independence protesters broke through a police cordon and climbed over a fence to reach the grounds of the regional parliament in Barcelona chanting "Puigdemont, our president" and "Where are the politicians we voted for?", many wearing Puigdemont masks.

A referendum on secession last October was ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired the region's administration when it declared independence, and five cabinet members including Puigdemont fled to Belgium.

The crisis has shaken the confidence of companies in Catalonia, causing thousands to move their registered headquarters elsewhere in Spain, and has deeply divided Catalan society.

JUDGE'S PERMISSION

Court rulings have hampered Puigdemont's efforts to return to power since pro-independence parties won a slim majority in a December regional election.

The Constitutional Court said on Saturday the former journalist could not be elected unless he was physically present in the parliament, with a judge's permission to attend.

These conditions make it hard for Puigdemont to stand, as he is likely to be arrested and tried on charges including sedition and rebellion if he returns to Spain. They carry a potential prison sentence of decades.

Police on Tuesday searched border crossings and the entrance to the parliament itself to ensure the former leader did not return to Barcelona, the Catalan capital.

He has said he can lead Catalonia from abroad, and on Monday ruled out seeking a judge's permission to attend the parliament in person.

Pro-independence parties would not nominate an alternative candidate, the regional parliament speaker said on Tuesday. The separatists' majority in the regional assembly mean Puigdemont would almost certainly win the vote.

Their decision to stick with Puigdemont suggests they will continue to push for secession, giving the national government in Madrid no reason to end the direct control that it imposed to block the independence drive.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/catalonia-po ... iness.html
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Re: Catalonia postpones vote as Puigdemont in Belgium

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrested in Germany

Carles Puigdemont had been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since he fled Spain five months ago.

Authorities in Germany arrested former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Sunday after he crossed into the country from Denmark, setting up a possible extradition of the separatist leader to Spain.

Puigdemont’s attorney announced the arrest on Twitter and said his client had been taken to a police station. German police confirmed in a statement that Puigdemont had been arrested at 11:19 a.m. Sunday by highway patrol officers in Schleswig-Holstein, a state that borders Denmark.

German deputy state prosecutor Ralph Doepper, who is based in the northern town of Schleswig, told Bloomberg News that a court would decide at a procedural hearing Monday whether to keep Puigdemont in custody pending a Spanish extradition request.

Doepper said authorities had been tipped off that Puigdemont would be entering Germany, and multiple German media outlets reported that Spanish intelligence had been used to snare the ardent Catalan nationalist.

In Barcelona, thousands of pro-independence Catalans gathered to protest the arrest, leading to clashes with police, the Associated Press reported. Protesters also turned out in the northern city of Girona, where Puigdemont was mayor before he became regional president in 2016.

The arrest marked the latest in a series of maneuvers that have left Catalonia’s independence movement with few leaders who are not either being held in custody or sought as fugitives.

Puigdemont is wanted in Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition arising from his role in organizing an October referendum on Catalan independence. If convicted, he could face as many as 30 years in prison.

The Catalan leader has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since he fled Spain five months ago amid the uproar over the referendum. Separatists won that vote, and Puigdemont’s government declared independence. But the Spanish government deemed the ballot unconstitutional and imposed direct rule.

Spain had reactivated an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont on Friday. At the time, he was in Finland. But his attorney, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, said Saturday that Puigdemont had left Finland and was en route to Belgium.

Puigdemont’s attorney said that German police have been following proper procedures since the arrest and that his client had intended upon his return to Brussels to “put himself, as always, at the disposal of the Belgian justice system.”

[Catalonia finally declared independence — but Spain vows it won’t last long]

The detention comes at a tense moment in Catalonia. Separatists hold a majority in the regional parliament in the wake of elections in December. But they have not been able to form a government and have abandoned plans to name a new president after the arrest of their latest candidate, Jordi Turull.

Puigdemont had sought to reclaim the presidency for himself but abandoned that bid on March 1, announcing in a 13-minute video that he had come to the decision with “the greatest sadness.”

But he also said that he would set up a foundation that had the makings of a government in exile.

“I will not throw in the towel. I will not quit. I will not give up in the face of the illegitimate behavior of those who lost at the ballot box,” he said.

That message was in contrast to the one he had communicated privately to a colleague in messages that were captured by a TV camera and that acknowledged that the Spanish government’s crackdown “has won.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ca ... 3236552dc1
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