Catalan jailings are a serious mistake, says Puigdemont

Supporters of Catalonian independence

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called on Saturday for a united political front in the December 21 election to continue the drive for independence from Spain and to protest the imprisonment of former members of the regional government.

"We will study it, and put it in the hands of an investigating judge", prosecutors' spokesman Eric Van Der Sijpt told AP.

Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said his government will have no influence over the future of Puigdemont or the other Catalan officials because the European arrest warrant "is a completely legal procedure".

Bank of Spain governor, Luis Maria Linde, had already warned in late September that political tensions could affect growth and financial stability.

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"The EU Framework Decision provides that the final decision must be taken within 60 days, with an extension to 90 days under exceptional circumstances", the Belgian justice ministry said in a statement.

The Spanish government said on Friday it would have no option but to open talks within the law with those who held a majority.

Puigdemont and some of his former ministers turned up in Brussels earlier this week after Spain's state prosecutor announced he would seek charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against them.

Also in the interview he said that he was "willing to be a candidate" in the regional elections on December 21 and added that he could campaign from overseas. On Thursday the 54-year-old ignored a summons to appear before the same judge in Madrid. National Court judge Carmen Lamela jailed them all, although agreed to let one former regional minister go free on bail. "For Catalonia, for the release of political prisoners and for the republic", he said on Twitter.

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The former leader has said that he was not fleeing the Spanish court system but instead was seeking European support for his region's independence bid.

Fueled by questions of cultural identity and economic malaise, secessionist sentiment has skyrocketed to reach roughly half of the 7.5 million residents of Catalonia, a prosperous region that is proud of its Catalan language spoken along with Spanish.

The Catalan parliament was dissolved by the Spanish government last week after they officially declared independence from Spain.

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