Catalan ex-President turns himself in to Belgian authorities

Catalan ex-President turns himself in to Belgian authorities

Catalan ex-President turns himself in to Belgian authorities

Spain on Friday issued an arrest warrant on sedition and other charges against Carles Puigdemont, tightening the judicial net around the former Catalan leader who went Brussels after his government was sacked over a declaration of independence, reports Reuters.

A European arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Puigdemont and the other four as Spain seeks their return for an investigation related to Catalonia's independence bid.

The broadcaster says the four deposed cabinet ministers also reported to police.

Mr Puigdemont and several aides fled to Belgium after they were fired by Spanish authorities when politicians in Catalonia voted to declare independence from Spain despite repeated warnings that it would violate the nation's constitution.

A judge in Madrid was on Friday set to issue an European Union arrest warrant for Catalonia's deposed leader over his region's tumultuous independence drive, in a move likely to take tensions to a new level in Spain's worst political crisis in decades. "It's not with a government in jail that the elections will be neutral, independent, normal".

The judge also has the option of not detaining them but imposing conditions on their freedom, such as orders to remain in Belgium, Deputy Public Prosecutor Gilles Dejemeppe told The Associated Press. A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail.

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Dejemeppe said the extradition process could take more than 60 days, well past the December 21 date set for the regional election in Catalonia. But, he said, the main goals must be to recover the self-rule of the region and the release of the jailed separatists, not another immediate attempt to culminate the independence drive.

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

The 54-year-old has been holed up in Belgium since Monday and ignored a summons to appear before the judge in Madrid, saying that he wanted guarantees that he would receive a fair trial.

Catalonia's push for independence has triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

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

"This morning the five people wanted by Spain presented themselves to police in Brussels".

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