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Spain seeks ex-Catalan leader arrested over Denmark trip plan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo taken on December 22, 2017 shows axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaking after the results of the regional elections in Catalonia at the Square - Brussels Meeting Center in Brussels. (AFP photo)

Spanish authorities have announced that they would reinstate an international arrest warrant request for former Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont if he decides to travel from Belgium, where he is in self-imposed exile, to Denmark for the purpose of attending an academic meeting.

Spain's state prosecution service said on Sunday that a potential trip on Monday by Puigdemont to Copenhagen would prompt the prosecution to seek his arrest both in Belgium and in Denmark.

Spain issued an arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four of his former cabinet members after they fled Catalonia, in northeastern Spain to Belgium following a controversial declaration of independence for Catalonia in late October. Madrid later withdrew the warrant request to avoid the risk of Puigdemont being given asylum in Belgium.

However, authorities said once the trip plan to Copenhagen was confirmed, they would ask the judge in Brussels and also Danish officials to have Puigdemont arrested.

Reports about the Denmark trip emerged Friday when the University of Copenhagen said the former Catalan leader would attend an event held by its political science department. The event has been called “Catalonia and Europe at a Crossroads for Democracy? Debate with Carles Puigdemont.”

Puigdemont and his party, Together for Catalonia, won the highest number of seats for a pro-independence party in Catalonia’s parliament in recent elections. The votes had been called after Puigdemont’s escape to Belgium which came after the Spanish government launched a crackdown in Catalonia and ordered its regional government and parliament dissolved.

Puigdemont has announced that he would be ready to rule Catalonia’s new government from abroad and via a video link. Madrid has ruled out the idea as absurd, saying he should return home and stand prosecution regardless of his position in the future Catalonia administration.

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