Madrid (November 3, 2017): Spanish High Court has ordered eight former ministers from Catalonia’s dissolved government be detained without bail, while the state prosecutor sought a Europe-wide arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the ousted president of Catalonia.
Puigdemont left Spain and appeared in Brussels on Monday, the same day Spain’s state prosecutor announced he was seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against him and 13 ex-ministers.
The high court, known as the the Audiencia Nacional, summoned Puigdemont and 13 former ministers over their contentious independence drive, but only nine of them turned up to the session Thursday, and without Puigdemont.
The judge ordered eight be remanded in custody, while the ninth was granted bail of 50,000 euros ($58,000).
The lawyer for most of the ex-ministers, Jaume Alonso Cuevillas, said the decision was “politically motivated” and “disproportionate,” arguing that judge could have simply seized their passports to stop them leaving the country.
Puigdemont and the other four ministers are believed to still be in the Belgian capital. The state prosecutor in Madrid earlier Thursday asked the court to issue national and European arrest warrants for all five of them.
A separate case against six other Catalan lawmakers related to the independence bid was adjourned at the Supreme Court. All six, including parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, showed up to the session.
Puigdmeont, who still considers himself Catalonia’s rightful leader, denied he was evading justice, claiming that the charges had no legal basis and sought “only to punish ideas,” according to his spokesperson.
“We are facing a political trial,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the nine ex-ministers who turned up to court Thursday did so to make a complaint against the Spanish judicial system’s “lack of guarantees” to allow the pursuit of political ideas.