Spain's National Court jails former Catalan ministers as crackdown continues

Spain's National Court jails former Catalan ministers as crackdown continues

This constitutional crisis began when Catalan officials held an independence referendum last month, despite the Spanish government saying it was illegal.

The high court, known as the the Audiencia Nacional, had ordered Puigdemont and the 13 other ministers to appear.

"When someone doesn't appear after being cited by a judge to testify, in Spain or any other European Union country, normally an arrest warrant is issued", Supreme Court President Carlos Lesmes said, according to Reuters.

"If they ask, he will cooperate with Spanish and Belgian justice", lawyer Paul Bekaert told Reuters after Puigdemont and his four associates ignored an order to appear before the High Court to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds relating to the region's secessionist drive.

It is believed the five politicians have sought refuge in Belgium, where Mr Puigdemont's lawyer said he would "take some distance".

Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont, fired by central Spanish authorities, has confirmed that along with some members of his disbanded government remain in Brussels waiting a fair trial. On Tuesday, the Spanish government said Catalonia will have a regional election in December. Ninety percent of voters were in favor of separating from Spain.

The summons, issued Wednesday, came after Spain's chief prosecutor called for charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement to be brought against Puigdemont and other members of the Catalan government and parliament for their roles in a pro-independence movement and declaration of independence.

The request also covers four other dismissed Catalan ministers who did not show up. It was as yet unknown why their hearings were adjourned by the court, which deals with cases involving lawmakers.

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