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Spanish Prosecutors Seek Arrest Of Ousted Catalan Leader

BELGIUM -- Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont attends a news conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe in Brussels, October 31, 2017

Spanish prosecutors have requested a European arrest warrant for Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont and four members of his deposed government.

All five failed to show up at a Madrid court on November 2 on accusations of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds over their role in the autonomous region's disputed referendum for independence.

Puigdemont's lawyer has said that the climate was "not good" for his client, who flew to Brussels on October 30, to appear.

Nine other sacked members of the regional government turned up for questioning at the court. Prosecutors asked for eight of them to be held in pretrial detention without bail. They said the ninth should be granted bail.

The Catalan leaders have not been formally charged.

A judge will decide whether they should go to jail, pending an investigation that could potentially lead to a trial.

Spain has been gripped by a crisis since the independence referendum was held in Catalonia on October 1, despite a Constitutional Court ruling declaring it illegal.

Spain's central government has since temporarily suspended the northwestern region’s autonomy, sacked officials, and called snap elections in December.

Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, and the BBC