Ousted Catalan leader surrenders to police

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy | Dan Kitwood  Getty Images

Earlier, Belgian justice minister Koen Geens said his government would have no influence over the future of Mr Puigdemont or the four other Catalan officials because the European Arrest Warrants issued by Spain are "a completely legal procedure".

The fight between Spain and Catalonia's separatists reached a Belgian judge on Sunday after the region's deposed leader and four ex-ministers surrendered in Brussels to face possible extradition to Madrid for allegedly plotting a rebellion. Puigdemont, who is considering standing in a snap election in the region on December 21, has said he did not trust Spanish justice but would cooperate with the Belgian courts.

The Spanish government said on Friday it would have no option but to open talks within the law with those who held a majority.

The officials said they wanted to make their voices heard in the heart of the European Union and have refused to return to Spain, maintaining they could not get fair trials there.

"It had been looking positive for Rajoy as he seemed to be trying to restore order in Catalonia in a restrained way", said Caroline Gray, a lecturer in politics and Spanish at Aston University in the United Kingdom who specialises in nationalist movements.

In Brussels, a federal prosecutor said Belgian authorities would study the warrant before handing it to a judge.


October 31: A Spanish judge orders Puigdemont and the rest of the ousted Catalan government to appear for questioning later in the week as part of a rebellion probe. A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail. He worked his way up to Catalan parliament and represented the political movement for independence.

Whether in Brussels or Barcelona, Puigdemont is at the heart of political jockeying for position to start a campaign that promises to be as bitter as it is decisive to Spain's worst institutional crisis in almost four decades.

They had fled to Belgium this week after being removed from power by Spanish authorities as part of an extraordinary crackdown to impede the region's illegal declaration of independence.

Catalonia's push for independence has triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

"This morning the five people wanted by Spain presented themselves to police in Brussels".

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