Ousted Cataluña leader Puigdemont released on conditional bail in Belgium

THE former president of Cataluña, Carles Puigdemont, and four others who fled from Spain to Brussels have been released by a judge on conditional bail after they handed themselves in to police in Belgium.

Puigdemont, accompanied by his lawyer, and  Antoni Comín (Health), Clara Ponsatí (Education), Lluís Puig (Culture) and Meritxell Serret (Agriculture) presented themselves to the police in Brussels on Sunday thus avoiding arrest.

On Friday Spanish National Court judge Carmen Lamela issued an European Arrest Warrant for the group who are accused of rebellion and  sedition.

The Belgian judge ordered the five not to leave the country until their extradition case is heard.

A statement by the prosecutor’s office said, “The request made this afternoon by the Brussels’ Prosecutor’s Office for the provisional release of all persons sought has been granted by the investigative judge.”

“The next step in the proceedings is the appearance of the five defendants before the Chambre du Conseil within the next 15 days.”

Puigdemont, speaking on television in Belgium last week, had already said he would cooperate with the authorities on the arrest warrant. 

“I won’t flee justice; I’m willing to submit to justice, but to real justice.

“The Spanish courts can’t guarantee a fair and independent sentence that will be free of the enormous weight and influence of politics.”

“You mustn’t forget that we’re the legitimate government.”

Under European arrest warrant procedures, individuals are detained and brought before judges within 24 hours. A court then has 15 days to decide whether to execute the arrest order, according to the Belgian Justice Ministry.

Including time for possible appeals, a final decision must be taken with three months and Puigdemont, in this case, would then have to be surrendered to Spain within 10 days.

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