Carles Puigdemont and four former ministers of the Catalan government – Meritxell Serret, Antoni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig arrived, on Monday morning, at the Brussels Palais de Justice. This was indicated around 8.45 a.m. by a police spokesman. The individuals were appearing around 9.00 a.m. in the Brussels Court in Chambers, which must rule upon the execution of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the Spanish courts against them. The accused individuals entered the building without appearing before the dozens of foreign and Belgian journalists, gathered in front of the entrance.
Mr Puigdemont and his ministers are being prosecuted in Spain for misconduct, civil disobedience, forceful resistance to a public officer executing the law, misappropriation of public money, bribery and insurrection.
During an initial audience of the Court in Chambers on November 17th, the Brussels Public Prosecutor demanded the execution of the arrest warrants. The prosecuting authorities dismissed the corruption charge, retaining the offences of “conspiracy on the part of civil servants” and the “misappropriation by civil servants.”
The lawyers for the accused individuals are stressing, as they have continuously done over the past few weeks, the offences of forceful resistance to a public officer and insurrection are not themselves offences under Belgian law. The rationale for arguing this is that these offences should not therefore be prosecuted under Spanish law.
The case has been ongoing for a number of weeks.
The likely length of Monday’s hearing is unknown. The judge will decide the date to rule upon the matter or, failing that, a date for the case to be reheard. A press conference will take place close to the Palais de Justice in the wake of the decision.
The Belga press agency noted that besides the several dozen Belgian and foreign journalists, a handful of Catalan sympathisers also gathered in front of the Brussels Court in Chambers.