Former Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont hands himself in to Belgian authorities

Francois Lenoir, REUTERS | Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont arrives for a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, after Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine separatist leaders from Catalonia, October 14, 2019.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has handed himself over to justice authorities in Belgium, where he had been living since 2017, but avoided arrest after testifying. His move comes after Spain issued a new warrant for his arrest following the sentencing of his former colleagues.


Puigdemont's office said Friday that he "in the company of his lawyers, voluntarily appeared before Belgian authorities" in relation to the arrest warrant.

It said that Puigdemont rejects the warrant and opposes any attempt to send him back to Spain.

Puigdemont avoided arrest after voluntarily testifying before a Belgian judge.
Spain's Supreme Court says that an investigating judge is telling Belgian judicial authorities that the former Catalan leader possesses no parliamentary immunity that might prevent his extradition to Spain. A court statement says Belgian authorities asked for clarification on the matter early Friday.

The separatist leader was elected as a European lawmaker in May. But Puigdemont didn't take office, according to the court, since he didn't swear on the Spanish Constitution — a pre-requisite under Spain's electoral rules.

On Monday, Spain’s Supreme Court convicted 12 of his former separatist colleagues for their roles in 2017 secession bid, a move that flamed independence supporters in the north-eastern region’s capital, Barcelona, for four consecutive nights.

Puigdemont and a number of his associates fled to Belgium in October 2017 after they were summoned to court over the secessionist push he led and the holding of an independence referendum that the Spanish government said was illegal

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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