How Catalonia's Bid for Independence From Spain Unfolded

A man holds up an “esteladas,” or Catalonia independence flag in front of a Spanish national police officer outside the National Court in Madrid Thursday. A Spanish judge has ordered nine ex-members of the government in Catalonia jailed while they

A man holds up an “esteladas,” or Catalonia independence flag in front of a Spanish national police officer outside the National Court in Madrid Thursday. A Spanish judge has ordered nine ex-members of the government in Catalonia jailed while they

Prosecutors had asked Investigative Magistrate Carmen Lamela to order the immediate detention of Puigdemont and four of his ex-ministers, who ignored court summonses to appear for questioning on Thursday over their role in an independence referendum.

Appeals can stretch the process to as long as 45 days.

A senior official of Mr Puigdemont's party, the centre-right Democratic Party of Catalonia, said on Sunday that the party wanted Mr Puigdemont to continue as its candidate. The next day, Spain's central government used extraordinary constitutional powers to fire Catalonia's government, take charge of its administrations, dissolve its regional parliament and call a regional election.

The warrants have further fuelled separatists' anger and frustration after deposed members of Mr Puigdemont's government who did not flee to Belgium, including his deputy, appeared before a Spanish judge on Thursday and were detained pending a possible trial.

Mr Puigdemont's Belgian lawyer did not answer calls requesting comment on the arrest warrant but has said his client will fight extradition to Spain without seeking political asylum.

The Spanish government have said that the jailing of the Catalan politicians is not politically motivated.

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National Court investigating judge Carmen Lamela filed the request with the Belgian prosecutor on Friday evening, and issued separate global search and arrest warrants to alert Europol in case the five flee Belgium. A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail. Spain takes direct control of Catalonia, and the region's new leader, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, calls for a new regional election on December 21.

"We consider ourselves a legitimate government", Puigdemont told Belgian state television RTBF on Friday.

Spain's Constitution says the nation is "indivisible" and that all matters of national sovereignty pertain to the country's parliament. The other eight could remain in custody for up to four years.

"If we add the issue of independence, we won't get as many people to support us", said Mas, who was the first Catalan leader to harness the political momentum for secession.

Puigdemont and his fellow separatists claim that an illegal referendum on secession held on October 1 that polled 43 percent of the electorate and failed to meet global standards gives them a mandate for independence.

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