Catalan ex-President turns himself in to Belgian authorities

Posted November 06, 2017

An investigating judge will decide if the European Union arrest warrants, issued by a Spanish judge, should be executed, BBC reported.

The separatist majority of Catalonia's Parliament defied Spanish authorities and voted in favor of a declaration of independence on October 27.

In Brussels, a federal prosecutor said Belgian authorities would study the warrant before handing it to a judge.

He has said he wanted to stand as the leading candidate for Puigdemont's PdeCat (Catalan Democratic party) in the regional election.

Puigdemont is now in Belgium, where he went after Madrid sacked his government.

Puigdemont, 54, dismissed last week as Catalan president by Spain's government, failed to show up on Thursday to be grilled by the judge over alleged sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds, accusations he calls politically motivated.

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Shortly after the decision, Puigdemont said on Twitter that the "legitimate government of Catalonia had been sent to jail for its ideas and for having been faithful to the mandate approved by the parliament of Catalonia".

Earlier, Belgian justice minister Koen Geens said his government would have no influence over the future of Mr Puigdemont or the four other Catalan officials because the European Arrest Warrants issued by Spain are "a completely legal procedure". A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail.

Puigdemont had said he would only return to Spain if he was assured of being given a fair trial.

The former leader's move comes as two polls suggested pro-Catalonia independence parties will together take the most seats in December's regional election although they may fall just short of a majority needed to revive the secession campaign. Mas said. "If we add the issue of independence, we won't get as many people to support us".

Also on Thursday, six other Catalan lawmakers appeared in a parallel session in the Supreme Court, where they were given a week to prepare their defense ahead of a new hearing on November 9. He worked his way up to Catalan parliament and represented the political movement for independence.

The grassroots group Catalan National Assembly has also called for a strike on Wednesday and a public protest on Saturday.