Deposed Catalan president hands himself in to Belgian authorities

Carles Puigdemont and five members of his former Cabiner handed themselves into Belgian police on Sunday

Deposed Catalan president hands himself in to Belgian authorities

File photo: Then-Catalan President Carles Puigdemont chants the Catalan anthem following his Parliament’s Declaration of independence, 27-10-2017. Image: Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images

The ousted president of Catalonia has handed himself into authorities in Belgium according to local reports in the country.

On Friday, a Spanish judge issued European Arrest Warrants for Carles Puigdemont and four other members of his former Cabinet who had fled to Brussels earlier in the week.

The Brussels prosecutor's office confirmed this afternoon that the five politicians handed themselves in this morning.

"They were deprived of their liberty at 9:17am (8:17am Irish time)," the prosecutors office said.

Spokesman Gilles Dejemeppe said the group have not been arrested and would be heard by an investigating judge on Sunday afternoon.

The judge will have to decide on a course of action - ranging from arrest and imprisonment to conditional release - by 9.17am on Monday.

Rebellion

The Catalan leaders are facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds in Spain following their unilateral declaration of independence on October 27th.

Under Belgian law, prosecutors are obliged to bring the suspects before a judge, who will then have 24 hours to decide whether to approve the arrest warrant.

Should the judge decide to execute the warrant, the process is likely to take approximately 15 days.

However, if Mr Puigdemont decides to appeal against his extradition, the process could stretch out as long as 45 days.

He could have been prevented from standing in the upcoming snap regional elections in Catalonia if the warrant remained in force.

Now that they have handed themselves in however, all five exiled regional leaders should be allowed to stand in the December 21st poll.

A spokesperson for his political party has insisted it still expects Mr Puigdemont him to stand as a candidate. 

"We want President Puigdemont to be the person who leads the big offensive we will carry out on the 21st at the polls," said party spokeswoman Marta Pascal.

Detained

On Thursday, Supreme Court Judge Carmen Lamela jailed nine members of the former regional Parliament while the investigation continues.

One of the jailed politicians was released on bail the following day.

Judge Lamela rejected Mr Puigdemont's request to testify on video from Brussels.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Barcelona on Friday, demanding the release of the eight former ministers who remain in custody.