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Former Catalan leader urges Spain to accept secessionist election win

MADRID: Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont on Saturday urged Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to accept the results of a Dec. 21 local election which gave a slim majority to parties favoring a split of the northeastern region from Spain. The election failed to resolve Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades with pro-independence parties taking 70 of 135 seats in the Catalan parliament but not managing to gain a majority of the popular vote. “The ballot boxes have spoken, democracy has spoken, everyone…

Spain drops European arrest warrant for sacked Catalan leader

MADRID: Spain has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for Catalonia's sacked leader Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers, who fled to Belgium after the regional parliament declared unilateral independence, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday. In a statement, the court said Judge Pablo Llarena, in charge of the case, decided to withdraw the warrant as the five have said they want to come back to Spain to participate in regional elections on December 21. He however maintains the Spanish arrest warrant and they…

Sacked Catalan leader turns himself in to Belgian police

BRUSSELS: Catalonia's sacked separatist leader Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers turned themselves in to Belgian police on Sunday after Spain issued a warrant for their arrest. The five, who face accusations of rebellion and sedition in Spain, were due to appear later Sunday before a judge who will decide within 24 hours whether to detain or release them. It is the latest twist in the crisis unleashed by the Catalan separatists' push to break away from Spain that sent shock waves across Europe.…

Ousted Catalan leader says ready to stand in snap regional election

MADRID/BRUSSELS: Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who left Spain for Belgium after his government was sacked following a declaration of independence, said on Friday he was ready to stand in a snap election in the region next month. Puigdemont ignored a court order to return to Spain on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds relating to Catalonia’s independence push. Nine members of his dismissed cabinet were ordered to be held in custody on Thursday pending an…

Spain seizes control of ‘independent’ Catalonia

MADRID: Spain moved on Saturday to assert direct rule over Catalonia, replacing its executive and top officials to quash an independence drive that has pushed the country into uncharted waters and sent shock waves through Europe. As thousands rallied in Madrid in support for Spanish unity, a government notice officially deposed regional leader Carles Puigdemont and his deputy Oriol Junqueras. The announcement placed Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria in charge of administering the region. It is the…

Key events since Catalonia independence vote

MADRID: Spain's Prime Minister on Wednesday gave Catalonia's separatist leader five days to clarify whether or not it was declaring independence, as he considers imposing direct rule from Madrid. Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday said the region had earned the right to break away from Spain after a disputed referendum but called for the process to be suspended to leave the door open to negotiations. Here is how events have unfolded in the worst political crisis in Spain in decades: October 1: Violence-hit referendum…

Catalan leader steps back from declaring immediate independence

BARCELONA: Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Tuesday he had accepted the "mandate of the people" for his region's independence from Spain but suspended the declaration to allow more time for talks with Madrid. In a speech to regional lawmakers in Barcelona, Puigdemont stopped short of declaring an outright split but left the door to secession open, leaving some political rivals scratching their heads. "I assume the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent republic," he said. But the…

Catalan leaders to declare independence in Spain crisis

BARCELONA: Catalan leaders were preparing Wednesday to declare independence after a violence-hit referendum, defying a warning from the country's king that national stability was in peril. As the European Union urged dialogue to ease the standoff between separatists in the northeastern region and Madrid, a regional government source said the independence declaration could be as early as Monday. The standoff has morphed into Spain's worst political crisis in decades, with images of Spanish police beating unarmed…

Some birds smell to navigate, experiment shows

PARIS: At least one species of sea-faring birds uses its sense of smell to navigate over ocean waters, according to a novel experiment described in a study released on Tuesday. Temporarily deprived of the ability to smell, Scopoli's shearwaters had trouble finding their way home after embarking from the Spanish island of Menorca to forage, researchers reported in the journal Scientific Reports. The olfactory-challenged birds easily flew nearly 200 kilometres (125 miles) to the Catalan coast to gather food, but set off…

Terror cell behind Barcelona attack ‘dismantled’: govt

BARCELONA: Police were searching on Saturday for the driver of a van that killed 13 people when it plowed into a crowd in Barcelona and were trying to determine whether two other suspected militants linked to the attack had died or were at large. The Spanish government said it considered it had dismantled the cell behind Thursday's Barcelona rampage and an attack early on Friday in the Catalan seaside town of Cambrils. Police arrested four people in connection with the attacks Barcelona and Cambrils, where a woman was…