Ex-Catalonia leader turns himself in to Belgian police

Supporters of Catalonian independence

Supporters of Catalonian independence

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four colleagues have handed themselves in to police in Belgium.

A Madrid High Court judge asked Belgium to arrest Puigdemont and four associates after they ignored a court order to return to Spain on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust relating to their secessionist campaign. They fled to Brussels after Madrid's central government imposed direct rule over the autonomous region.

Since then, eight politicians and two activists have been jailed pending trial in Spain, and five others, including Puigdemont, are being held in Belgium, where he's trying to run a government in exile.

Puigdemont's lawyer in Brussels had previously said that his client plans to fight extradition to Spain without requesting political asylum. "It's not with a government in jail that the elections will be neutral, independent, normal".

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 ninth spent a night behind bars before posting bail and being released.

He has said he wanted to stand as the leading candidate for Puigdemont's PdeCat (Catalan Democratic party) in the regional election.

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An opinion poll published on Saturday by La Vanguardia newspaper shows the December election is too close to call.

October 30: Puigdemont arrives in Brussels, Belgium, after fleeing Spain.

Also on Thursday, six other Catalan lawmakers appeared in a parallel session in the Supreme Court, where they were given a week to prepare their defense ahead of a new hearing on November 9.

"If we add the issue of independence, we won't get as many people to support us", said Mas, who was the first Catalan leader to harness the political momentum for secession. A judge of the Spain's National Court remanded in jail yesterday accused of sedition Jordi Sanchez, president of the Pro-independence organization Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Jordi Cuixart, leader of Omnium Cultural.

Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has maintained that the recent independence referendum was illegal.

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