Monday, 28 October 2019
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is set to appear before a Brussels court on Tuesday following a new extradition request issued against him by Spain.
The separatist leader and former president of Catalonia has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium, after fleeing the semi-autonomous region amid the crackdown on a successful 2017 independence referendum declared illegal by Madrid.
A Spanish judge has issued several European Arrest Warrants (EAW) against him, but they have been unsuccessful or rejected by foreign courts.
The new EAW comes after Spain handed lengthy prison sentences to nine Catalan politicians for their involvement in the referendum, after a total of 12 faced charges ranging from sedition and misuse of public funds to civil disobedience and rebellion, the latter of which was dismissed.
After the new EAW was issued, Puigdemont voluntarily appeared before a Brussels magistrate, who released him on the condition that he remain in Belgian territory ahead of his hearing on Tuesday.
Puigdemont’s lawyers are expected to ask the chamber to postpone the hearing in order to prepare documents they intend to submit to it, according to reports by Belga news agency.
The separatist leader has received the support of Flemish nationalists in Belgium, with hundreds taking part in a “March for Freedom,” which saw them walk from Waterloo to Brussels.
A separate demonstration organised in Brussels on 15 October by pro-independence group Catalan National Assembly was attended by members of the nationalist N-VA party, including former state secretary Theo Francken, who, following the news of Puigdemont’s escape from Catalonia, said the ousted leader could seek asylum in Belgium.
The Brussels Times