A judge in Madrid has ordered eight members of the deposed Catalan government to be put in custody.
The judge jailed eight former ministers, who are being accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Carles Puigdemont, former President of the region, travelled to Brussels shortly before Spain’s attorney general announced his intention to pursue the charges. He had been summoned to attend the national court to give evidence on November 2 and 3.
In a written request to the judge, prosecutors said that Puigdemont and four other members of his administration were aware that they had been ordered to testify, but had chosen not to attend. Their failure to appear caused Spain’s state prosecutor to request a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four others over their role in a disputed independence referendum. Among those who did attend the court hearing in Madrid was Catalan ex-vice president Oriol Junqueras, the regional government’s spokesman, Jordi Turull, and Josep Rull, who handled the region’s territorial affairs.
Puigdemont has promised to respect the results of December’s snap regional elections and said he would leave Belgium and return home immediately if a fair judicial process were guaranteed in Spain. Catalonia’s deposed president has denied he fled Spain to seek political asylum but said he was in the EU capital for “freedom and safety”.
On October 27, Madrid stripped Catalonia of its autonomy and removed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont from office, following the Catalan independence referendum that Madrid deemed illegitimate. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favor of independence.