Catalan ex-President turns himself in to Belgian authorities

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Ousted leader Carles Puigdemont says he's in Belgium to gain support for Catalonia's independence bid.

Story highlights

  • Ex-President has said he went to Belgium to bolster Catalonia’s independence bid
  • Charges against the former officials include sedition, rebellion and misuse of funds

They will go before a judge who will have until Monday morning to decide the next step, which could include executing arrest warrants against the men or imposing bail requirements, said Gilles Dejemeppe, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office.

The officials surrendered to authorities at 9:17 a.m. and, with their lawyers present, were officially notified of the arrest warrants, Dejemeppe said.

A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, a day after eight members of the dissolved Catalan government were jailed in Spain.

Catalonia's dismissed leader Carles Puigdemont addresses reporters in Brussels last month.

Puigdemont, who considers himself the rightful leader of Catalonia, has said he went to Belgium not to flee the Spanish court system, but rather to seek European support for his region’s independence bid.

Puigdemont tweeted Saturday that he and his associates are “prepared to fully cooperate with Belgian justice following the European arrest warrant issued by Spain.”

Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis in decades after Puigdemont’s administration held an independence referendum October 1 despite the nation’s highest court banning the move.

The Catalan parliament then declared unilateral independence, and Madrid responded by suspending the region’s autonomy, sacking the government and imposing direct rule.

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

The charges include sedition, rebellion, misuse of funds, abuse of authority and contempt. The other four named in warrants are Toni Comin, Clara Ponsati, Lluis Puig and Meritxell Serret.

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