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Puigdemont slips out of Finland despite arrest warrant

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 07, 2018 exiled former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont poses in front of a Catalan flag during a photo session in Brussels on February 7, 2018.<br />Spain’s Supreme Court said on March 23, 2018 it would prosecute for “rebellion” 13 Catalan separatists, including ousted leader Carles Puigdemont and his nominated successor, over their role in the region’s failed breakaway bid. Judge Pablo Llarena accused Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, of organising the independence referendum in October last year despite a ban from Madrid and “grave risk of violent incidents”.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel DUNAND

Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont on Saturday appeared to have foiled attempts by Finnish police to arrest him under a European arrest warrant as an MP said he had already left the country.

Puigdemont, who lives in self-imposed exile in Belgium, had been visiting Finland since Thursday for talks with lawmakers.

Finnish MP Mikko Karna, one of the ousted leader’s hosts in Finland, said he had “received information that Carles Puigdemont departed from Finland yesterday evening by unknown means to Belgium,” in a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

“Puigdemont confirmed to me today that in Belgium he will fully cooperate with authorities,” Karna wrote.

The lawmaker had told media earlier that he had not been in touch with Puigdemont since Friday.

Puigdemont is wanted by Spain on charges of “rebellion” and “sedition”.

Spain on Friday also issued international arrest warrants for five other separatists, including four former ministers who are also in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

Tensions are running high in the region and separatist parties have abandoned plans to name a new president following the arrest of the latest candidate.

Separatist parties won regional elections in December called by Madrid after they attempted to secede and retained their absolute majority in parliament.

But they have still not been able to form a government and face growing legal pressures that have seen many moderate their tone.

With numerous leaders abroad or in jail, the separatists have struggled to re-organise or even remain in politics.


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