SPANISH authorities begged Belgium to execute “urgently” a European arrest warrant against former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont because his was a “very sensitive” case, it has been revealed.

However, Belgium, along with Germany, Austria, Lithuania and Switzerland, all warned Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena that they would not arrest the exiled MEP.

The judge – who has been relentlessly pursuing exiled independence leaders across Europe – wanted to arrest the former president wherever he was, regardless of any immunities granted to him as an MEP.

READ MORE: Spaniards taunt Carles Puigdemont on his return to Brussels

Details emerged in papers sent by Spain to a court in Sardinia – where Puigdemont was arrested and released last weekend – which have been seen by the Catalan news portal VilaWeb. It said a number of EU states told Llarena they would not arrest Puigdemont, who is wanted by Spain over the 2017 Catalan independence referendum, should he enter their territories.

However, Germany flagged the issue last year, telling other countries in the Schengen Information System: “We would like to inform you that, according to the German Ministry of Justice, the person in search [Puigdemont] has diplomatic immunity as a Member of the European Parliament until it is lifted by that parliament … it will be very unlikely to keep this person in custody for any delivery procedure.”

News of the judge’s pursuit of the MEP and Europe’s rejection of his overtures came as Catalan independence supporters began a weekend of protests and other events to mark the fourth anniversary of the referendum. The vote was declared illegal by Spain and led to the imposition of direct rule on Catalonia.

Grassroots group Omnium Cultural brought together in Barcelona leading figures from pro-independence parties and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) to celebrate the results of what some speakers called the “democratic party”, held four years ago.

Former president Artur Mas and the incumbent Pere Aragones were in attendance, along with parliament speaker, Laura Borras, and some of those jailed over the 2017 plebiscite. these included Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart.

Speakers reiterated their determination to pass an amnesty bill and win self-determination for Catalonia.

Aragones called for unity among the pro-independence parties and said a new referendum was the only solution to the conflict. “Catalonia will vote again. The referendum is the inevitable solution. Now it’s time to recover the spirit of the 1-O [October 1],” he said.

“This government declares itself proud and heir to the 1-O and is committed to continuing the path to independence.”

Former president Quim Torra, who was barred from office by Spanish authorities, wrote on Twitter: “The 1-O is a date. Nothing would have happened if a day had not been set for the onslaught.

“And the 1-O is a plan, worked on for many months (and that it only failed because we did not defend the proclaimed Republic) ... A year ago I left the Palace and would do the same again.”