Deposed Catalan leader says 'ready to run' in regional

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A Spanish judge issued an European Union arrest warrant Friday for Catalonia's deposed separatist leader a day after he failed to appear for questioning over his role in the region's tumultuous independence drive.

The judge rejected a request from the former Catalan leader, who is considering standing in a snap election in Catalonia next month, to testify via video conference from Belgium.

On Oct. 10, Catalonia's Regional President, Carles Puigdemont, signed a declaration of independence and the parliament voted to declare independence on Oct. 22.

Puigdemont and his entire cabinet face the extremely serious charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds after last week's independence proclamation in the Catalan Parliament.

On Thursday, ex-Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras and seven other former regional ministers were jailed without the opportunity to post bail. Despite everything, earlier on Friday, Puigdemont said in an interview with Belgian television that he is still considering running in Catalonia's December 21 snap election.

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"We can run a campaign anywhere because we're in a globalized world", he told RTBF, adding that he was not in Belgium to "Belgianize Catalan politics".

Puigdemont has said he did not trust Spanish justice but would cooperate with the Belgian courts.

The ninth, ex-regional minister for business Santi Vila, left Estremera prison after posting bail of 50,000 euros (£44,000) on Friday. His passport was confiscated and Vila needs to show up in court regularly as the rebellion, sedition and embezzlement probe continues. He has said he wants to lead the centre-right separatist Democratic Party of Catalonia in the upcoming election on a moderate platform.

In response, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed the Executive Council of Catalonia, dissolved the Parliament of Catalonia and called for regional election on December 21. The court postponed a hearing on Thursday until next week to allow more time for them to prepare their defence.

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