Carles Puigdemont. AFP

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has boarded a flight to Denmark despite a threat by Madrid to issue a warrant for his arrest if he leaves Belgium, Spanish newspaper El Pais said.

Puigdemont has been in exile since a failed independence bid.

The paper published a photo of the secessionist leader, sacked by Madrid after the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27, at Brussels airport.

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It said his plane left at 8 am (0700GMT) but did not indicate what time he was scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen.

Puigdemont was to take part in a debate on Catalonia at the University of Copenhagen later Monday.

The reported trip came a day after Spain’s prosecution service said it would “immediately” have a supreme court judge issue a warrant for his arrest if he travels to Denmark, and urge Copenhagen to hand him over.

Spanish Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena had dropped a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four of his deputies who fled to Belgium in early December, saying it would complicate the overall probe into the region’s leaders — but warned they would be arrested if they return.

In a major blow to the central government in Madrid, pro-independence parties won an absolute majority in regional elections on December 21.

On Monday, the speaker of the Catalan parliament is due to announce his candidate to become the president of the region.

Puidgment is the favourite, but wants to govern the region from exile in order to avoid arrest if he returns to Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated Saturday that governing Catalonia from abroad would be “illegal”.

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Olugbenga Ige is an AAUA alumnus. Gbenga loves watching Manchester United play at Old Trafford. When he isn't listening to music, he is watching movies. Gbenga is an experienced reporter at Concise News and a new media enthusiast.