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Ex-Catalan Leader Puigdemont Surrenders to Belgian Police

Brussels (TeleSUR– Former Catalan leader Charles Puigdemont, together with four former ministers, have surrendered to Belgian officials, the country’s prosecutor’s office reports.

“This morning the five people wanted by Spain presented themselves to police in Brussels. They were put into custody at 9:17 this morning,” acting spokesman for the Brussels’ prosecutors, Gilles Dejemeppe, said in a news conference of the ex-ministers.

Carles Puigdemont
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Dejemeppe went on to say the judge will hear from defendants later this afternoon and will announce his decision concerning their future tomorrow. According to the official, if the judge chooses to comply with Spain’s request for extradition, the ministers will be imprisoned during the process, which could take over 60 days.

During this time, Puigdemont has the right to appeal for his released and if the prosecutor opts for a warrant, the proceedings could be extended another 30 days. A time period of that length could potentially allow the Catalan president to participate in the regional elections set for Dec. 21.

Puigdemont still stands a good chance to be placed as the candidate and, unless he’s convicted of a crime, the politician has the right to run in the election, Spanish government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vido said.

Related: EU Says Catalonia’s Independence Referendum Was ‘Not Legal’

From his Twitter account, Puigdemont wrote in Dutch his willingness to cooperate with Belgian authorities in relation to the Spanish arrest warrant.

The five ex-ministers fled to Belgium last week after being deposed by Spanish authorities in an effort to destabilize the Catalan declaration of independence.

Five warrants for their arrest on a crime of sedition, rebellion, and embezzlement followed the Catalan politicians Friday, while Saturday saw eight of their former comrades behind bars, sent to jail without bail as the criminal investigation continues. A ninth was also arrested, but released shortly after on bail.

This post was originally written for and published by TeleSUR English.