EU civil war: Spain to ‘take action’ if Belgium refuses to hand over Catalonia campaigner

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EU civil war: Spain to ‘take action’ if Belgium refuses to hand over Catalonia campaigner 1

Mr Puigdemont was the leader of Catalonia when an illegal independence referendum took place in 2017, but fled to Belgium in self-exile after he was forced from office by the Spanish government. Spain has attempted to get him extradited on charges of sedition and misuse of public funds three times, which resulted in Mr Puigdemont handing himself into Belgium authorities on Friday and then being released without bail. The other two attempts to get him back into Spain also failed as local judges rejected the claims he had lead a rebellion.

After a Belgian court postponed the European Arrest Warrant case against him until December 16, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo told broadcaster Onda Cero yesterday: “As we see it, it is not respectable for this to be denied to a democratic state after the Supreme Court sentence.”

Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer, Simon Bekaert, argued there had been no change to the case since the first time the arrest warrant was issued.

He said: “We will of course invoke immunity.”

This comes after Spain’s Supreme Court convicted 12 Catalan separatist leaders of sedition, disobedience and misuse of public funds earlier this month.

They sentenced them to prison terms of up to 13 years over their role in the independence bid.

Sedition means an “uprising” against the law which doesn’t involve violence.

Oriol Junqueras, who was Catalan’s vice president at the time, was the highest-ranking official to face court.

He was found guilty of sedition and misuse of public funds and sentenced to 13 years, the longest prison term among the accused.

Mr Junqueras tweeted from prison after being sentenced: “We will be back stronger, more convinced and firmer than ever.

READ MORE: French MEP slams ‘scandalous’ jailing of Catalan leaders

“Almost all European constitutions include clauses aimed at strengthening the integrity of the territory.”

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also warned he would defend constitutional order by all legal means necessary.

His words came ahead of a repeat general election on November 10.

He said in a statement after the ruling: “Today concludes an exemplary judicial process.”

Mr Sanchez added the ruling confirmed “the wreckage of a political movement that has failed in its attempt to obtain internal support and international recognition.”

He added the Catalan independence process “leaves behind only a sad balance of pain and confrontation” and “a fracture of coexistence in Catalonia”

Mr Sanchez also said his government will respond with “proportionality to any violation of the law.”


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