Carles Puigdemont faces extradition court in Belgium | News | DW | 17.11.2017

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Carles Puigdemont faces extradition court in Belgium

Prosecutors have asked a Belgian court to extradite the instigators of Catalonia's independence bid. Here's what happened.

Deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers faced court in Belgium on Friday for an extradition hearing.

Prosecutors want them sent back to Spain to face the consequences of their attempt to secede.

What they are charged with: Rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds. All charges arise from an illegal referendum on secession and subsequent declaration of independence from Spain.

What they are doing in Belgium: They fled to Brussels claiming they would not receive a fair trial in Madrid. Belgium is deciding whether to extradite them.

What happened on Friday: They faced their first extradition hearing and the case was postponed. They will come back on December 4 to argue their case.

How long this will go on for: It could take months if the decision gets appealed to the two higher courts, which it probably will if the court rules to extradite. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will respect whatever decision the Belgian courts make.

The background:

  • Catalonia held an illegal referendum on October 1 on whether to declare independence from Spain. About 92 percent voted yes, but only 43 percent of people actually turned up to vote.
  • Catalonia's parliament declared independence about four weeks later. Madrid immediately sacked the government and imposed direct rule.
  • Rajoy called fresh elections for December 21, which Puidgemont and co will likely miss.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people attended rallies on both sides of the issue.
  • Puigdemont and several of his ministers fled to Belgium as fellow separatists were rounded up by police in Spain.
  • Madrid issued an international arrest warrant. The Belgian government said it cannot intervene and left the decision up to its courts.

Other stories on Catalonia and Puigdemont you may be interested in:

Spain warns EU of Russian meddling in Catalan separatist movement

Mariano Rajoy urges Catalans to defeat separatists in polls

Pro-independence Catalans rally for jailed leaders

aw/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)