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Carles Puigdemont

Catalonia ex-officials surrender to Belgian police

Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont (photo) and four former advisers have turned themselves in to Belgian police, says a prosecutors’ spokesman

He said an investigating judge would decide by Monday morning whether to execute an EU arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge on Friday, the BBC informs.

Mr Puigdemont fled to Belgium after Madrid imposed direct rule on Catalonia following an independence referendum. He has said he will not return to Spain unless he is guaranteed a fair trial.

He and his four associates are wanted on charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust following the referendum which a Spanish court deemed unconstitutional.

Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolved the regional parliament and called local elections for 21 December.

The associates are Meritxell Serret (former agriculture minister), Antoni Comín (former health minister), Lluís Puig (former culture minister), and Clara Ponsatí (former education minister).

If the judge decides to go ahead and arrest them, Belgium has a maximum of 60 days to return the suspects to Spain. But if the suspects do not raise legal objections, a transfer could happen much sooner.

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