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Belgium frees deposed Catalan leader pending trial

Belgium frees deposed Catalan leader pending trial
From Al Jazeera - November 6, 2017

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia's deposed president,has been freed from police custody in Brussels, along with four of his former ministers, on bail and pending trial.

The Catalan politicians, who were released on Sunday, had handed themselves to police in Belgium earlier in the day, after Spain issued a European Union-wide arrest warrant against them.

The former Catalan leader, who is conditionally released, is expected to appear in a Belgian court soon over his possible extadition.

The arrest warrant, which Puigdemontis expected to contest, was issued on Friday andincludes charges such as disobedience, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Al Jazeeras Nadim Baba, reporting from Brussels, said that the charges in the warrant carry a possible jail sentence of 30 years.

"This is extremely serious. Lots of people were wondering if the five Catalan politicians started the process to apply for political asylum, something Puigdemont said he was not interested in. At the moment that is not an issue," he said.

"The five are expected to appeal if Belgian legal authorities decide to extradite them back to Spain in the coming months.Beyond that, political asylum can buy them more time, but it would be really unusual for Belgium to issue political asylum to another EU member state."

The extradition of the Catalan politicians is a fully judicial issue in the hands of judges.

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