07:38 GMT30 March 2020
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    Ex-leader of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont has fled to Belgium after a European arrest warrant was reportedly requested for him and four other members of his cabinet for alleged sedition and misuse of public funds.

    Belgian Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Marie-Christine Marghem has rejected the possibility of providing asylum to Carles Puigdemont as there is no threat to his life or basis to accept him. She added that the issue of granting asylum to the former Catalan leader would be examined in court if such request from Puigdemont was filed. The minister stressed that the Belgian government "in no case should interfere into affairs of a sovereign country, which functions on a democratic basis."

    Reuters has also reported that Belgian Minister for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken does not rule out granting asylum to Puigdemont. He explained that the question was "to which extent the court process would be fair."

    On Thursday, Carles Puigdemont didn't appear at Spain's National Court to answer questions of the prosecutors who initiated a rebellion case against him. Now a Spanish judge is mulling the possibility of issuing an international arrest warrant for him. Puigdemont's Belgian lawyer says that the former Catalan president would fight extradition without seeking political asylum.

    READ MORE: Spain Jails Eight Pro-Independence Catalan Ministers

    Nine former leaders of the Catalan government were jailed the day before which fueled new protests in Barcelona on Thursday night.

    After the Catalan parliament voted in favor of secession from Spain last week following the contested independence referendum, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the rebellious region, dissolved the parliament and removed Puigdemont and his Cabinet. However, the ousted Catalan leader refused to recognize the dismissal of the government and called for "democratic resistance" to direct rule by Madrid.


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    political asylum, arrest warrants, 2017 Catalan independence referendum, Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia, Spain, Belgium
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