Ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont turned himself in voluntarily to Belgian police in a fresh twist that brings to 15 the number of political figures who are being detained and could energise the separatist movement.
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. It would also make his participation in a snap Catalonian regional election called by Madrid on December 21 unlikely.
Puigdemont's lawyer in Belgium also said the arrest warrant had been prepared, but there has not yet been official confirmation from Spain's government.
They will go before a judge who will have until Monday morning to decide the next step, which could include executing arrest warrants against the men or imposing bail requirements, said Gilles Dejemeppe, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office. The next day, Spain's central government used extraordinary constitutional powers to fire Catalonia's government, take charge of its administrations, dissolve its regional parliament and call a regional election. "It's not with a government in jail that the elections will be neutral, independent, normal". A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail.
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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.
Hundreds of pro-secession Catalans gathered in town squares across the region Sunday to put up posters in support of independence and to demand the release of the jailed separatists.
Prosecutors had asked Investigative Magistrate Carmen Lamela to order the immediate detention of Puigdemont and four of his ex-ministers, who ignored court summonses to appear for questioning on Thursday over their role in an independence referendum.
Catalonia's push for independence has triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades.