Ousted Catalan leader Puigdemont turns himself in to Belgian police

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BRUSSELS, Nov. 5 – Ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four former members of his cabinet who were wanted by the Spanish government turned themselves in voluntarily to the federal judicial police of Brussels on Sunday morning.

They were taken into custody at 9:17 a.m. local time (0817 GMT), announced the public prosecutor’s office of Brussels on Sunday.

The prosecutor’s office will require an investigating judge who will hear the five people during Sunday afternoon, and he will have 24 hours to make a decision.

If any of the accused disagree with the judge’s decision they can appeal. On Saturday, Puigdemont twittered in Dutch that he pledged full co-operation with the Belgian judicial authorities in the light of Madrid’s issuing of a European arrest warrant.

Puigdemont and his four councilors will have the possibility to appeal in front of another court which also has 15 days to decide. A cassation complaint can also be considered if a second appeal is requested, which would put an additional delay of 15 days again.

Puigdemont and the four former members of his government are accused by the Spanish government, like the other eight former members of the cabinet, of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds following the unilateral declaration of independence of the region on Oct. 1.

The five persons arrived in Brussels on Oct. 30 and Puigdemong said at a press conference the following day that he was not seeking political asylum in Belgium.

On Friday evening, Spanish High Court judge Carmen Lamela issued a European arrest warrant for the sacked Catalan leader Puigdemont and the other four after they failed to appear in court in Madrid on Thursday.

If the EU arrest warrant is finally accepted by Belgium’s Justice system, the five persons charged will have 10 days to go back to Spain and surrender to the local authorities.

So far, no judge has been appointed yet for that case, the judiciary procedure will thus be delayed until someone is nominated.

(Copyright Xinhua, received from National News Agency)

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