REBElLLION & SEDITION CHARGES: Catalonia leader, 4 others, ignore court order

A European arrest warrant has also now been requested for former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont by a Spanish state prosecutor, as well as four other ministers who did not attend questioning at the High Court. On Tuesday, the Spanish government said Catalonia will have a regional election in December.

In Madrid, 20 secessionist leaders had been summoned by two separate courts to testify over their role in holding a banned October 1 referendum on secession and later proclaiming independence from Spain.

A spokeswoman for the High Court could not confirm the warrant had been issued.

Cracks have appeared within the pro-independence coalition of centre-right and far-left parties as well as inside Puigdemont's own PdeCat (Democratic Catalan Party) where some of his allies are now pushing for a negotiated solution with the central government.

Puigdemont's no-show was the latest act of defiance from the renegade leader, who has caused consternation in Madrid following the referendum and the Catalan parliament's declaration of unilateral independence weeks later.

"He must be heard within 24 hours by an investigating judge who will explain the motives for the European arrest warrant, to say that he has the right to a lawyer and also to offer for him to voluntarily return to Spain, something that he can also refuse to do", Chome told The Associated Press.

The crimes being probed are punishable with up to 30 years in prison under Spanish law.

A lawyer for several of the jailed Catalan leaders said they would appeal against the judge's decision.

The prosecutor's request came after nine ex-ministers were quizzed at the National Court on possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.

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 which has yet to hold a hearing.

  • Rogelio Becker