Spain court rejects reinstating European arrest order for ex-Catalan leader

French President Emmanuel Macron visits Toyota's automobile manufacturing plant in Onnaing northern France Monday Jan. 22 2018
Spanish government refuses decision by sacked Catalonia leader to rule remotely

24 January, 2018

The fugitive former leader of Spain's Catalonia region has spoken in Denmark about an upcoming constitutional referendum in the Faeroe Islands, a semi-autonomous Danish territory.

Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena rejected a petition from Spain's top prosecutor to issue a European arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, saying the former Catalan leader was trying to "provoke his arrest overseas" with his planned trip to Copenhagen.

Puigdemont fled Catalonia for Belgium shortly after the declaration, which was not recognised by any sovereign nations.

The Spanish High Court issued an EU-wide arrest warrant for him, but it was not enforced by Belgium.

While at first glance a blow to Madrid's efforts to have Puigdemont arrested, the court's decision could also make it more hard for the former Catalan leader to be allowed to vote.

Junts Per Catalunya and ERC both support Puigdemont. But, he hopes to be sworn in via video link or by using an MPs to read his candidate speech if he is re-invested as the new leader of Catalonia at the end of January.

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Although he did not talk specifically about whether Mr Puigdemont would be able to be invested from afar, Mr Torrent pledged "to do everything I can to ensure that all members of parliament can express themselves freely as representatives of the people's will".

The ongoing crisis unfolded after the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence in October.

In Copenhagen, Puigdemont declined to comment any further on the day's events.

Spain's state prosecutor is seeking his arrest in Denmark. Whether or not Puigdemont can lead Catalonia in absentia has been debated hotly.

However, the Catalan parliament's speaker said that Puigdemont was the only candidate chosen by parliament to rule the region. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated on Saturday it would be considered "illegal".

The Spanish government has threatened to arrest him the moment he sets foot back in Spain.

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