Spanish prosecutors seek EU arrest warrant for Puigdemont

Spanish prosecutors have asked for a European arrest warrant to be issued for Catalonia's axed leader Carles Puigdemont and four members of his deposed government. All five are in Brussels and failed to turn up in Madrid for questioning on Thursday.

Spanish prosecutors seek EU arrest warrant for Puigdemont
Puigdemont walks past a Spanish flag in Brussels. Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/AFP

If granted by Carmen Lamela, the judge leading the investigation, the warrant will subsequently be passed on to federal prosecutors in Belgium. On Thursday, the office of Belgium's federal prosecutor told Spanish news agency EFE that it will “apply the law” if a request is made.

“I can only say that the law will be applied, if we receive it. We can't make more comments or conjecture,” a source in the federal prosecutor's office was quoted as saying.

Puigdemont has hired Belgian human rights specialist Paul Bekaert, a lawyer with experience fighting extradition attempts by Madrid against suspected members of ETA, to fight his case.

READ ALSO: The Belgian human rights expert tasked with defending Puigdemont

Earlier on Thursday Spanish prosecutors called for eight former members of Catalonia's deposed government including its vice-president to be detained pending trial. They asked for a ninth, Santi Vila, to be freed if he pays a bond of 50,000 euros.

Puigdemont and 19 others are accused of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

READ ALSO: Catalan leaders arrive for questioning in Madrid