THREE deposed Catalan government ministers will appear before a Belgian judge today to respond to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by a Spanish court which is seeking their extradition for their role in Catalonia’s independence referendum.

Antoni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig fled Catalonia following the poll and subsequent declaration of independence last October when the Spanish government sacked the Catalan cabinet. They have spent most of their time in the company of deposed president Carles Puigdemont, who also travelled to Brussels.

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He was detained in Germany a fortnight ago while he was trying to return to Belgium following a trip to Finland. Puigdemont is still behind bars awaiting a final decision on his extradition to Spain.

The Spanish Supreme Court withdrew a previous EAW in December over concerns that the Belgian judges’ criteria might adversely affect the case in Spain.

Before making their final ruling, the Belgian judges could consider pre-emptive measure for the trio, which could include their temporary detention. Previously, they allowed all the pro-independence politicians to remain free.

Another deposed minister Clara Ponsati, who was also in Belgium, is back in St Andrews after a Scottish court last week let her go free after she appeared to answer the EAW.

Comín faces charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds, which can carry sentences of up to 40 years in jail.

Serret and Puig are charged with disobedience and misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont, meanwhile, has said he will not attempt to flee Germany should he be freed by the Schleswig-Holstein Supreme Court.

He is currently being held in custody in Neumünster prison awaiting a ruling on his extradition.

In a conversation recorded in the prison during a visit by two MPs from the German Left party, he said: “If the German judicial says that I can leave prison but stay in Germany, I will remain.

“I obviously won’t escape.”