Carles Puigdemont. Picture: REUTERS
Carles Puigdemont. Picture: REUTERS

Madrid — The Spanish judge leading the investigation into Catalan separatists will issue on Friday a European arrest warrant for ex-leader Carles Puigdemont, who has fled to Belgium, a judicial source in Madrid said.

The expected move against Puigdemont, who was dismissed last week as Catalan president by the Spanish government, comes after eight ministers of Catalonia’s deposed government were detained pending further probes into their role in the independence drive. While judge Carmen Lamela had not issued the arrest warrant for Puigdemont as of 11pm GMT on Thursday, the source said "she will do so during the day Friday".

Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer Paul Bekaert had earlier told Flemish television channel VRT that his client told him that the warrant "has been issued against the president and four other ministers who are in Belgium". He said he expected that the Spanish judiciary would subsequently send an extradition request to Belgian federal prosecutors, adding that Puigdemont would appeal if a Belgian judge approved the request.

A total of 20 people including Puigdemont and the speaker of the Catalan regional parliament were summoned for questioning on Thursday.

Puigdemont and four others with him in Belgium failed to show.

Lamela ordered preventive detention for those who remained because of a possible flight risk.

AFP

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