The Latest: Lawyer says Catalan leader wouldn’t fight arrest
A lawyer for ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says his client will not be seeking asylum in Belgium and intends to cooperate with Belgian police and judicial authorities, if necessary.
A Spanish prosecutor asked a judge in Madrid on Thursday to issue an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont, who flew to Brussels earlier this week after the Spanish government removed him and his 13-member Cabinet from office.
His Belgian lawyer, Paul Bekaert, told The Associated Press that the idea of asking for asylum in Belgium “is now off the table.”
Bekaert said he was not aware of a European arrest warrant having been issued for his client, but said Puigdemont would turn himself in to Belgian authorities if one is.
He said: “We will put in place everything we can in order to collaborate with the Belgian police.
Puigdemont and four of his former ministers did not comply with a summons ordering them to appear in Spain’s National Court on Thursday for questioning. They and nine other ex-members of the regional government are being investigated on potential charges of rebelling, sedition and embezzlement over efforts to break the region away from Spain.
Lawyers for nine former members of the Catalan regional government ordered jailed say the defendants are serene and want the people of Catalonia to stay calm.
Defense lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said the Spanish National Court judge’s decision on Thursday “lacked justification” and was “disproportionate.”
Alonso-Cuevillas is representing former regional Vice President Oriol Junqueras and four other ousted members of the Catalan Cabinet.
Van den Andreu, the lawyer defending other ex-members of the regional government, said whether his clients were jailed “was already predetermined” before they appeared in court for questioning.
Both lawyers said they would appeal the judge’s order.
The nine are among 20 Catalan politicians who are being investigated by Spanish courts for possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement stemming from Catalonia’s declaration of independence.
A Spanish judge has ordered nine ex-members of the government in Catalonia jailed while they are investigated on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement.
Investigative magistrate Carmen Lamela issued the ruling on Thursday at the request of prosecutors who are pursuing a criminal case stemming from the declaration of secession the Parliament of Catalonia made Friday.
The judge set bail for one of the nine former members of the Catalan Cabinet, saying he would be freed if he pays bail of 50,000 euros.
Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia, and four other ex-Cabinet members are in Belgium and ignored court summonses to appear for questioning Thursday.
The Spanish government invoked constitutional authority last week to take over running Catalonia following the region’s declaration of independence. Madrid dismissed the Catalan Cabinet, dissolved the regional parliament and called a new regional election for Dec. 21.
A Spanish prosecutor has asked a National Court judge to issue an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s ousted regional president and four of his ex-ministers.
The prosecutor made the petition to investigative magistrate Carmen Lamela on Thursday after ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont failed to appear in the Madrid court for questioning in a rebellion probe following the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence from Spain Oct. 27.
Puigdemont and several of his ministers went to Brussels after the secession declaration and said they wouldn’t heed the summons.
Earlier, the judge questioned nine other Catalan ex-ministers and prosecutors asked for eight to be jailed unconditionally and one given the chance to pay bail.
Spain’s central bank is warning of the economic costs of the Catalan political crisis, which it says could damage the country’s growth.
The Bank of Spain assesses the consequences of two possible scenarios.
The first is a temporary period of uncertainty in the fourth quarter of 2017, which it predicts could shave 0.3 percentage points off forecast growth through the end of 2019.
The second scenario is a “severe and prolonged” crisis, which would bring an accumulated decrease of 2.5 percentage points in Spanish GDP between the end of 2017 and 2019. That, the bank says, could spell a recession for the Catalan economy.
The bank says in a technical report published Thursday that the forecasts are based on hypothetical simulations and should be treated with caution. Even so, it says the conclusions demonstrate the “significant risks and economic costs” resulting from Catalonia’s independence bid.
The Spanish government last month maintained its forecast for growth in 2017 at 3.1 percent, but revised its estimate for 2018 from 2.6 percent to 2.3 percent because of the crisis.