Spanish judge issues arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

A judge in Spain has issued a European arrest warrant for former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four of his cabinet colleagues who fled to Belgium after facing charges including sedition and rebellion.

The warrant, which adds two further indictments of perjury and willful disobedience of the law, is the first step in attempts to extradite the Catalan leadership to face trial which carries a possible sentence of 30 years on conviction.

The five failed to attend a high court hearing in Madrid on Thursday when nine other ex-members of the regional government were taken into custody.

One of those detained has been freed on bail of €50,000 (£44,000; $58,000).

The judge rejected Puigdemont’s request to testify via video-conference from Belgium.