MADRID — A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant on Friday for former members of the Catalan Cabinet who were last seen in Brussels, including the ousted separatist leader Carles Puigdemont who said he was prepared to run for his old job even while battling extradition in Belgium.
The National Court judge filed the request with the Belgian prosecutor to detain Puigdemont and his four aides, and issued separate international search and arrest warrants to alert Interpol in case they flee Belgium.
Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer has said that his client will fight extradition to Spain without seeking political asylum.
The former leaders are being sought on five charges, including rebellion, sedition, and embezzlement in a Spanish investigation into their roles in pushing for secession for Catalonia.
The officials flew to Brussels after Spanish authorities removed Puigdemont and his Cabinet from office on Saturday for declaring independence for Catalonia. The Spanish government has also called an early regional election for Dec. 21.
Puigdemont told Belgian state broadcaster that he was in Belgium ‘‘ready to be a candidate’’ in the early polls and because he had lost faith in the Spanish justice system. ‘‘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.’’
‘‘I did not flee, but it’s impossible to properly prepare’’ a legal defense while in Spain, he told the broadcaster.
If Belgium acts on the international warrant issued by Spain and arrests him, Puigdemont would have to be brought before an investigating judge within 24 hours.
His extradition procedure would take 15 days, Belgian legal analysts say. But should Puigdemont appeal, that process could take a further 45 days, meaning that he would probably not leave Belgium before early January, well after the elections.
In her decision on Friday, Judge Carmen Lamela said Puigdemont ‘‘apparently is in Belgium’’ and accused him of ‘‘leading the mobilization of the proindependence sectors of the population to act in support of the illegal referendum.’’
Spain says the only legal way to achieve secession is by revising Spain’s 1978 Constitution in the national Parliament, not by regional votes.
The arrest warrant came a day after the same judge jailed nine former members of Puigdemont’s separatist government.
All members of the ousted Cabinet were ordered to appear at Spain’s National Court on Thursday to answer questions. Five of them, including Puigdemont, didn’t show up.
Spanish prosecutors want to charge members of the dismissed regional government — as well as six additional members of the regional Parliament — for promoting official steps to declaring Catalonia’s independence.