Deposed Catalan Leader Says, 'Ready To Run' In Regional Elections

Deposed Catalan Leader Says, 'Ready To Run' In Regional Elections

The judge issued the European arrest warrants late Friday for Puigdemont and four of his allies who are also in Belgium, to force them to return to Spain.

Puigdemont and some of his former ministers turned up in Brussels earlier this week after Spain's state prosecutor announced he would seek charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against them.

National court judge Carmen Lamela has filed a request with the Belgian prosecutor to detain the five and also issued separate worldwide search and arrest warrants to alert Europol in case they flee the country.

'I will go to the justice authorities, but the real justice authorities, ' he told Belgian media.

"We are prepared to fully cooperate with Belgian justice following the European arrest warrant issued by Spain", Puigdemont wrote in Dutch on his Twitter account. "For Catalonia, for the freedom of political prisoners and for the republic", Puigdemont said in a tweet that included the hashtag, a site calling for parties to unite against the Spanish government at the ballot box.

Defence lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said the decision "lacked justification" and was "disproportionate".

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.

While Mr Puigdemont and others flew to Belgium, eight members of his government stayed in Spain. "That could be tomorrow, the day after or even Monday... we are not in any hurry".

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Mr Puigdemont, 54, told Belgium television that he wanted to appear "before the true Justice (of Belgium), not before the Spanish".

One of them, Republican Left's president, Oriol Junqueras, is the region's former vice president.

Rovira appeared to issue a veiled threat that, saying that if her party's demands were not met, separatists could try to scuttle the elections by encouraging pro-independence local officials to not manage the election or open their town halls as polling places.

Told of Puigdemont's unity call, the ERC's deputy leader, Marta Rovira, responded simply: "We must win (the elections) and that is what we will do".

Spain's Constitution says the nation is "indivisible" and that all matters of national sovereignty must be handled by the Spanish Parliament.

The ousted leader reacted to the events at Spain's National Court in Madrid as thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest at the jailings.

The Bank of Spain, the central bank, has warned that the economic growth of the country could be affected if the constitutional crisis in the Catalan region gets worse.

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