Catalan leader surrenders to Belgian police

Trevor Jackson
November 6, 2017

Hours after former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont and the others turned themselves in to Belgian authorities, Puigdemont's party put him forward as its leader for an upcoming regional election called by the Spanish government — meaning he could end up heading a campaign from Brussels while he fights a forced return to Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has maintained that the recent independence referendum was illegal.

Belgian legal experts have suggested extradition would take 15 days - with a further 45 days if the Catalan politicians appeal against the process. "For Catalonia, for the release of political prisoners and for the republic", he said on Twitter.

Also in the interview he said that he was "willing to be a candidate" in the regional elections on December 21 and added that he could campaign from overseas.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the self-proclaimed "legitimate government of Catalonia" said that Puigdemont and his four colleagues would remain in Belgium during the court proceedings in order to denounce "a political trial carried out according to the Spanish government's directive". Spain takes direct control of Catalonia, and the region's new leader, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, calls for a new regional election on December 21. An investigating judge will decide if the European Union arrest warrants, issued by a Spanish judge, should be executed, BBC reported.

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Puigdemont threatens to declare independence if the central government is unwilling to enter into talks with Catalan officials. A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail. Mas said. "If we add the issue of independence, we won't get as many people to support us". He was arrested with four other members of the Catalan government who did not appear before a Spanish high court Thursday.

The grassroots group Catalan National Assembly has also called for a strike on Wednesday and a public protest on Saturday.

Hundreds of pro-secession Catalans gathered in towns across the region on Sunday.

Puigdemont and his fellow separatists claim that an illegal referendum on secession held on October 1 that polled 43 percent of the electorate and failed to meet worldwide standards gives them a mandate for independence.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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