February 21, 2018 / 2:23 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Spanish Supreme Court orders arrest of former Catalan MP Anna Gabriel

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By Raquel Castillo and John Miller

MADRID/ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Spain’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of former Catalan member of parliament Anna Gabriel after she failed to appear in court on Wednesday to answer charges related to the region’s independence push.

Gabriel was called to appear in the Supreme Court on charges of sedition and rebellion surrounding her alleged part in Catalonia’s illegal independence referendum and subsequent secession declaration in October.

“I would have never come to Switzerland but the situation has forced me to. I would like to think this case will be shelved and I can return home,” Gabriel told Catalan television in an interview from Geneva on Wednesday.

The Catalan independence drive has taken Spain to the brink of its worst political crisis since the transition to democracy in the mid-1970s and has prompted thousands of companies based in region to relocate to avoid potential fallout.

The Supreme Court has not issued an international arrest warrant but the state’s attorney has said it would adhere to the prosecutor’s call to internationally pursue her detention.

A Swiss Federal Office of Justice spokesman said it would not grant extradition or legal assistance for any political offences, based on agreements between non-EU member Switzerland and Spain via the European Convention on Extradition, as well as the European Mutual Assistance Act, among other pacts governing cooperation. (Additional reporting by Carla Raffin; Writing by Paul Day, Editing by Angus |MacSwan)

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