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Catalonia's Puigdemont Is Put Forth For President, Despite New Calls For Arrest

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrives at Copenhagen Airport in Denmark on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. On the same day, his name was put forth to return as Catalonia's president.

The leader of Catalonia's parliament has nominated Carles Puigdemont to a new term as president, adding another twist in the story of the separatist leader who was ousted from power by Spain last year.

The move comes as Spain's Supreme Court rejects prosecutors' call to renew a European arrest warrant against Puigdemont. Prosecutors were calling for Puigdemont to be arrested in Denmark, where he traveled on Monday.

Puigdemont left Spain and took refuge in Belgium last fall, facing the threat of arrest over his efforts to make Catalonia independent. Spain rescinded its European arrest warrant against him in December, when it became clear Belgian authorities would not cooperate.

But this week, Puigdemont is visiting a university conference in Denmark. And prosecutors saw an opening. From Madrid, Lauren Frayer reports for NPR's Newscast unit, "It's his first trip out of Belgium since fleeing into exile there. He faces up to 30 years in prison in Spain if convicted."

As Spain's legal system wrestled over arresting Puigdemont, the ousted leader's name was put forward as a candidate for president. That move had been expected; in making it official, the president of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, said Puigdemont had the most support. Torrent also said he wants to discuss the situation with Spain's President Mariano Rajoy, reports El Confidencial.

Earlier this month, the leading separatist parties in Spain's northeast region said they want to put Puigdemont back in power — opening the possibility that he might lead under exile-like conditions, communicating with Catalonia through a video link and using proxies to handle political duties.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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