Madrid, Mar 24 (AFP) A Spanish judge today issued international arrest warrants against Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont and four others involved in the region’s independence movement, the Supreme court announced.

Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, who is handling the case concerning Catalonia’s secession bid last October, issued the international and European arrest warrants for Puigdemont and four other former ministers who are in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

An international warrant was also issued for a sixth Catalan separatist Marta Rovira who failed to appear in court on Friday and is now in non-EU Switzerland, according to Spanish media.

In December the same judge dropped European arrest warrants for Puigdemont and the four other deputies who fled to Belgium, saying the warrants would complicate the overall probe into the region’s leaders.

Were a magistrate in another EU state to make a ruling on the secessionists — including to drop all charges — Madrid would be bound by that decision.

In total Llarena said today that 13 key Catalan separatists would be prosecuted for “rebellion” which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.

Five Catalan separatists, including the region’s presidential candidate Jordi Turull, were placed in custody. (AFP) CK 03240143

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.