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Spain seeks new arrest warrant as Catalonia’s former leader lands in Denmark

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont (L) arrives at Copenhagen Airport in Denmark from Belgium on January 22, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Spain’s prosecutor sought on Monday to reactivate a European arrest warrant against Carles Puigdemont, as the former Catalan leader landed in Denmark for his first trip away from Belgium in three months of self-imposed exile.

Puigdemont fled to Brussels in October after authorities in Madrid sacked him and accused him of sedition over an illegal referendum and a unilateral eclaration of independence from Spain by the Catalan parliament.

He is the top candidate to lead Catalonia again after regional elections last month gave separatists a majority.

A Reuters reporter saw him come through customs at Copenhagen airport a little after 0700 GMT and, without being detained, get in a car and leave. It was not clear where Puigdemont, who is in Denmark to take part in a university debate, was headed.

Shortly after his arrival in Copenhagen, Spain’s state prosecution service said it had asked the Supreme Court to reactivate the warrant, on charges of sedition and rebellion, originally issued - and later lifted - after he fled to Belgium.

The Danish state prosecutor declined to comment.

After weeks of uneasy calm, the political crisis triggered by Catalonia's independence drive flared up again last week when the new regional parliament elected a separatist speaker at its first sitting.

Newly elected Catalan regional parliament speaker Roger Torrent arrives for a press briefing to announce his candidate for the regional presidency at the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona on January 22, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Also on Monday, the speaker proposed Puigdemont as president of Catalonia.

Roger Torrent said Puigdemont’s candidacy to once again head Catalonia’s regional government is “absolutely legitimate,” even though the secessionist leader faces criminal proceedings over his role in Catalonia’s independence drive.

Puigdemont had said on Friday he could be re-elected and govern remotely from Brussels, but the Spanish government said it would not let that happen.

Despite the tension over Catalonia, Spain’s borrowing costs fell to six-week lows on Monday after credit agency Fitch upgraded its sovereign rating to gave Spain its first “A-“ grade since the euro zone debt crisis.

(Source: Agencies)

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