Belgium minister: No politics in Puigdemont arrest warrant

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In this Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 file photo, ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont smiles after a press conference in Brussels. Puigdemont says he is ready to run for re-election in December and would be prepared to run his campaign from Belgium, where he is in hiding. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium’s justice minister says his government will have no influence over the future of ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after Spain issued a European warrant for his arrest.

Puigdemont and several aides fled to Belgium after they were fired by Spanish authorities taking control of Catalonia after lawmakers there voted to declare independence from Spain.

Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens says the European arrest warrant “is a completely legal procedure.”

He said, unlike a normal international extradition, “the executive power does not play any role in the EAW procedure. Everything goes through direct contact between the justice authorities.”

Puigdemont says he’s willing to cooperate with the Belgian judiciary but that he’s lost confidence in Spanish justice, which he says has become politicized. Several former Catalan officials have already been jailed.