Finnish police ask Spain for info on Puigdemont arrest warrant

AFP , Saturday 24 Mar 2018

Carles Puigdemont
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. Spain's Supreme Court said on March 23, 2018 it would prosecute for "rebellion" 13 Catalan separatists, including ousted leader Carles Puigdemont. (Source: AFP)

Finnish police said Saturday they had requested more information from Spanish authorities before acting on an arrest warrant issued against Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, though it was unclear whether he was actually in Finland.

Puigdemont, who lives in exile in Belgium, visited the Nordic country on Thursday and Friday to meet Finnish lawmakers and hold a seminar at the University of Helsinki. He had been due to leave Finland on Saturday afternoon, but his exact whereabouts were unknown.

The Finnish MP who organised Puigdemont's visit, Mikko Karna, told media he had not been in touch with him since Friday.

A Spanish judge on Friday issued international arrest warrants against Puigdemont and four others involved in the region's independence movement.

Finnish police told AFP on Saturday they had received the arrest warrant, but would not act on it until Finnish prosecutors had received the requested information.

"At the request of our prosecutor, we have contacted the Spanish authorities in order to request further information related to the European arrest warrant and the request for the surrender," National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) criminal investigator Hannu Kautto told AFP.

"We sent the request for additional information early this morning (Saturday) and now we are waiting for the Spanish authorities to reply... It is up to them how fast they can deliver this information for our prosecutor," he said.

He said Finnish police were under no obligation to arrest Puigdemont until they received the additional information.

"For now we have no reason to stop him at this point," he said.

"Should we meet him at the border trying to leave the country, it would be up to the authorities at the scene to decide whether to take action," depending on "whether Spanish authorities have updated the arrest warrant details in the Schengen information system," he said.

Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso Cuevillas meanwhile told Catalunya Radio his client would not try to escape arrest.

"When the European arrest warrant was issued (a first time), he made himself available to the Belgian justice and police, and he would do the same thing now. I have not spoken to him yet but that is clear, yes."

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