The Latest: Spain: Puigdemont has free movement ‘for moment’

The Latest: Spain: Puigdemont has free movement 'for moment'
The Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Latest on fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Spain’s foreign minister says that “for the moment” ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is free to move in Europe outside of Spain, adding that his arrest was a matter for judges to decide.

Puigdemont flew Monday to Copenhagen from Belgium, where he has been since fleeing a Spanish investigation into the Catalan parliament’s secession declaration last year.

Spain’s prosecutors promptly asked a judge to issue a warrant for his arrest but the judge has yet to decide.

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said in Brussels that “Mr. Puigdemont is subject to a process in Spain. Outside, for the moment, his movements are free within the European Union, but we’ll see.”

Spanish courts initially sought Puigdemont’s extradition from Belgium but canceled that petition amid concerns that Belgium might send him back but restrict the crimes with which he could be charged.

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11:50 a.m.

The speaker of Catalonia’s parliament has proposed former regional leader Carles Puigdemont as candidate to form a government, despite his status as a fugitive from Spanish justice.

Puigdemont arrived in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, on Monday to talk at a university there and meet Danish lawmakers. It is his first trip outside of Belgium since he left Spain dodging a judicial investigation into an illegal — and unsuccessful — independence declaration in late October.

Spain’s state prosecutor is seeking his arrest in Denmark. A Spanish judge is yet to rule on the European warrant.

Catalan Parliament Speaker Roger Torrent says that Puigdemont is the only candidate with enough backing to attempt a government following regional elections last month.

Torrent says he has written asking Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to meet and talk about the “abnormal situation” in Catalonia.

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10:10 a.m.

Spain’s state prosecutor has set in motion the process to arrest Catalonia’s former leader in Denmark, where he has arrived to attend a debate.

Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is scheduled to speak Monday at the University of Copenhagen and meet Danish lawmakers on Tuesday.

The trip is Puigdemont’s first outside Belgium since he fled there to avoid a Spanish probe for his role in an illegal— and unsuccessful— secession bid for Catalonia in October.

The prosecutor’s office says it has asked the Supreme Court to approve a European warrant for his arrest. It’s unclear if Judge Pablo Llarena will grant it. In December, Llarena withdrew a similar order, concerned that Brussels would send Puigdemont back to Spain but restrict the crimes with which he could be charged.

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9:15 a.m.

The fugitive former leader of Catalonia has arrived in Denmark, despite threats from Spain to seek his immediate arrest there.

On Sunday, Spain’s state prosecutor’s office said it will reissue a European arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont if he travels from Belgium to Denmark.

Spain issued a warrant for Puigdemont’s arrest in November, but withdrew it after a month amid fears that Brussels would send him back but restrict the crimes he could be tried for.

Puigdemont is being investigated by Spain over a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia’s parliament on Oct. 27.

He is slated to take part in a debate at the University of Copenhagen Monday, and Tuesday he has been invited to the Danish Parliament by a Faeroese lawmaker, but leading members of the government and opposition have declined to meet him.

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