Brussels, Belgium—Sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four members of his cabinet have surrendered to the Belgian authorities. Their surrender came after a Spanish judge issued a warrant for their arrest on Friday morning. Puigdemont and his close political associates are charged with rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust. If sentenced, they face up to 30 years in jail.
The Catalans had fled Catalonia last week when the Spanish Government triggered Article 155 and imposed direct rule on Catalonia. These measures were a response to an illegal independence referendum and the unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan Parliament that followed it.
On Monday morning, Belgian authorities decided to release the five Catalans under the condition that they appear at court within 15 days. Then, and if Belgium decides to arrest them, it’ll have 60 days to handle them to the Spanish police. However, appeals may protract the process.
Under the European Arrest Warrant system, which both Belgium and Spain have signed, extradition within the EU is quite fast. With that said, the Belgian authorities can still opt to ignore the Spanish warrant if they believe an extradition would violate the suspect’s rights.