Catalonia crisis: Sacked ministers held by Madrid court

A Spanish government source says Puigdemont is now in Brussels

Spain's state prosecutor has requested a European arrest warrant for former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who failed to appear at a court hearing in Madrid today after fleeing to Belgium earlier this week.

Spanish prosecutors have asked the National Court to jail nine ex-members of the sacked Catalan government.

This came after the regional government voted to declare the independence of the north-eastern region.

The jailings of the secessionist leaders and Puigdemont's flight to Belgium make it hard for leading figures from the independence movement to stand in a snap election in the wealthy region called by the Spanish government for December 21.

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Puigdemont "will not go to Madrid" on Thursday because "he will not have a fair trial" in Spain, Bekaert pointed out in statements quoted by the Belgian TV station NOS and reproduced by media. But instead, magistrate Carmen Lamela chose to jail eight of the politicians, only setting bail for Santi Vila, who had opposed last week's unilateral declaration.

A spokesperson for Puigdemont said he would remain in Brussels with the other four ministers.

"The decision to hold them in custody is absolutely disproportionate as we consider the charges of rebellion and sedition lack any ground, no matter how much the prosecution insists on affirming it", lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said.

On October 27th, the pro-independence majority in the northeastern region's parliament hurriedly approved a declaration of independence.

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