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Ex-Catalan leader Puigdemont turns himself in to Belgian police

06 November, 2017, 01:21 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Catalan

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four colleagues have handed themselves in to police in Belgium. Spanish authorities have sought Puigdemont's arrest for his connection to the recent attempt of Catalan independence.

A senior official of Mr Puigdemont's party, the centre-right Democratic Party of Catalonia, said on Sunday that the party wanted Mr Puigdemont to continue as its candidate.

The former president of the autonomous region had fled to Belgium after the Spanish government imposed direct rule on Catalonia following an independence referendum.

Puigdemont has said he refuses to attend any hearings unless he can be guaranteed that the judicial process he faces will be fair.

On Friday, a Spanish judge issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont, whose request to testify by videoconference was rejected.




Mr Puigdemont has said he would be willing to co-operate with the Belgian judiciary but that he had lost confidence in Spanish justice, which he claimed has become politicised. A Spanish judge had issued an arrest warrant for them on Saturday. Spain takes direct control of Catalonia, and the region's new leader, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, calls for a new regional election on December 21.

DW reporter Charlotte Chelsom-Pill, who was at the scene, said demonstrators chanted "We are not afraid" as they waited for the return of the six Catalan officials who appeared in the Supreme Court. The other eight could remain in custody for up to four years. He worked his way up to Catalan parliament and represented the political movement for independence.

Carmen Lamela, a judge in Spain's National Court, asked the Belgian prosecutor's office to arrest Puigdemont and four ministers in the dissolved Catalan government who ignored a court order to appear before a judge Thursday.

Thousands of people staged pro-independence protests on Thursday night in several Catalan towns, and parties forming the current coalition Junts Pel Si (Together For Yes) are pushing to run again on a joint ticket at the election.

Puigdemont and his fellow separatists claim that an illegal referendum on secession held on October 1 that polled 43 percent of the electorate and failed to meet global standards gives them a mandate for independence.

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