Carles Puigedemont and five other senior officials accused of sedition and rebellion

Deposed Catalan leader turns himself in to Belgian police

Deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four former advisors have turned themselves in to Belgian police after a Spanish judge issued a Europe-wide warrant for their arrest on Friday.

Puigdemont and four associates were wanted on charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust following last month’s independence referendum, which was ruled unconstitutional by Spain’s Supreme Court. The five senior Catalan officials – who include the former ministers of agriculture, health, culture and education – fled Spain last week and have said they will not return to Spain unless they are guaranteed a fair trial.

It is now down to Belgian authorities to decide how to proceed. A spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor’s office said an investigating judge would decide this morning whether to execute the warrant and hand the five men over.

Article Two of the European Arrest Warrant law lists 32 possible offences which warrant extradition. Neither “sedition” nor “rebellion”, two of the charges levelled against the Catalan leaders, are on that list.

According to the BBC, this means “a country can reject an EU arrest warrant if it fears that extradition would violate the suspect’s human rights”.

Discrimination based on politics, religion or race are also grounds for refusal. So are fears that the suspect would not get a fair trial.

On Friday, just hours after Catalan’s parliament voted for independence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the autonomous region, dissolved the parliament and called local elections for 21 December.

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