Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Puigdemont free as Brussels court ponders request


Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was released after less than a day in custody as a court in Brussels considers how to respond to a Spanish demand for his arrest.

Puigdemont and four former members of his government are barred from leaving Belgium without the court’s consent and must comply with all summons made by judicial or police authorities, the Brussels prosecutor’s office said in a statement early yesterday.

Puigdemont and the other separatists had turned themselves in to police on Sunday morning.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy invoked extraordinary powers last month to reassert his authority over Catalonia and fire Puigdemont and his government.

Since then, eight politicians and two activists have been jailed pending trial in Spain, and an arrest warrant is out to bring Puigdemont and his colleagues back from Belgium.

The Belgian judge’s decision leaves Puigdemont free to continue to challenge Rajoy, who called regional elections for Dec. 21.

Puigdemont is to appear within 15 days before a court in Brussels, which will decide whether to execute Spain’s order on Friday to hand him over.

Including time for possible appeals, he could extend his stay in Belgium for up to three months.

An opinion poll published on Saturday by La Vanguardia newspaper showed the regional election was too close to call, with projections for a near even split of seats for pro-independence and non-separatist parties.

Part two of the GAD3 survey, conducted between Oct. 30 and Friday and published yesterday, showed that just one in seven people from Catalonia (15 percent) believe the standoff between Barcelona and Madrid will end in independence for the region, while more than two-thirds think the process has been bad for the economy.

Optimism that a negotiated solution would be found was low, with just over a fifth thinking the crisis would lead to talks between regional authorities and Madrid.

Additional reporting by Reuters

This story has been viewed 1354 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top