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Deposed Catalan leader urges separatist 'unity' for election

05 November 2017

A Madrid High Court judge asked Belgium to arrest Puigdemont and four associates after they ignored a court order to return to Spain on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust relating to their secessionist campaign.

"It is time for all democrats to join together".

Mr Puigdemont, 54, told Belgium television that he wanted to appear "before the true Justice (of Belgium), not before the Spanish".

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A Spanish court has issued a European arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four other regional ministers.

Puigdemont is now in Belgium, where he went after Madrid sacked his government.

Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said his government will have no influence over the future of Mr Puigdemont or the other Catalan officials because the European Arrest Warrant "is a completely legal procedure". "For Catalonia, for the release of political prisoners and for the republic", he said on Twitter. Belgian federal prosecutors said they could question Puigdemont in coming days. The announcement added to anger and dismay in a second straight night of demonstrations in the wealthy north-eastern region, with protesters chanting and waving Catalan flags of red and yellow stripes with a white star.

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Another said that if "people are willing to go so far as to disrespect themselves and disrespect you, something should be done". A 48-year-old woman was arrested for giving a blowjob to a 28-year-old man while they were seated in the middle of a flight.

Puigdemont said yesterday that he was ready to run as a candidate in the election - which he can do even if detained - and today called for separatist parties to form a united front.

But the longer Mr Puigdemont can delay his arrest and extradition, the greater chance he has of being a factor in the December 21 election that Spanish authorities have called as part of their temporary takeover of running the rebellious region. The next day, Spain's central government used extraordinary constitutional powers to fire Catalonia's government and dissolve its regional parliament.

In Brussels, a federal prosecutor said Belgian authorities would study the warrant before handing it to a judge.

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In the Basque city of Bilbao in northern Spain, several thousand people marched Saturday despite the rain to protest the intervention of the Spanish government in Catalonia's self-rule.

Deposed Catalan leader urges separatist 'unity' for election