Belgium confirms receipt of arrest warrants for Catalan politicians

Kristopher Drake
November 6, 2017

Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont and four other former regional ministers have turned themselves in to police in Brussels, federal prosecutors in Belgium said.

Puigdemont and four of his associates who fled to Belgium in the aftermath were wanted by Madrid on charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust relating to Catalonia's independence campaign.

The fight between Spain and Catalonia's separatists reached a Belgian judge on Sunday after the region's deposed leader and four ex-ministers surrendered in Brussels to face possible extradition to Madrid for allegedly plotting a rebellion.

Embroiled in Spain's gravest political crisis since the return of democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election when he took control of Catalonia in response to last week's declaration of independence by its parliament.

On Saturday Mr Puigdemont called for a united political front in the December 21st election to continue the drive for independence from Spain and to protest the imprisonment of former members of the regional government.

Mr Puigdemont - who has said recent events show the Spanish justice system has "become politicised" - has vowed to take part in the poll.

On Thursday, nine members of Mr Puigdemont's sacked cabinet were ordered by Spain's High Court to be held on remand pending an investigation and potential trial.

The lawyer, Paul Bekaert, told The Associated Press Puigdemont would turn himself in to police if an arrest warrant was ultimately issued. "It's not with a government in jail that the elections will be neutral, independent, normal". The ninth spent a night behind bars before posting bail and being released.

Puigdemont and his fellow separatists claimed that a referendum on secession held on October 1 gave them a mandate for independence, even though it had been prohibited by the nation's highest court and only 43 percent of the electorate took part in the vote, which failed to meet global standards and was disrupted by violent police raids. The declaration is deemed mostly symbolic because it is unlikely Spain or the global community will recognize an independent Catalonia.

Hundreds of pro-secession Catalans gathered in towns across the region on Sunday.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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