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Puigdemont reports to the Judicial Authorities voluntarily as decision over extradition to Spain approaches

The former Catalan First Minister Carles Puigdemont has voluntarily reported to the Belgian Judicial Authorities. He has been conditionally released by an Examining Magistrate. The Belgian Judicial Authorities must decide what to do about Spain’s new request to send Mr Puigdemont back there. In Spain the Catalan leader faces prosecution for his role in the organisation of the Catalan independence referendum. The authorities in Madrid say that the referendum was illegal.    

Two years ago Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium in order to escape arrest. Earlier this week a Spanish court sentenced nine Catalan separatists to up to 13 years in prison for their part in the organisation of the 2017 independence referendum. Spain wants Mr Puigdemont to be sent back so that he too can be tried.     

The Belgian Judicial Authorities must now decide on whether the Spanish arrest warrant for Mr Puigdemont should be acted on. The key question is whether the crimes of which the former Catalan First Minister stands accused in Spain is also a crimes here in Belgium. If the Judicial Authorities rules that this is not the case, Spain's request will be rejected. However, if the Judicial Authorities rule that the offences Mr Puigdemont stands accused of in Spain are also offences in Belgium then it will be up to the Examining Magistrate to forward the case to the magistrate’s court that will decide whether or not he will be sent back to Spain.      

Meanwhile, Mr Puigdemont has been released on condition that he continues to live in Belgium and asks the Judicial Authorities’ permission if he wishes to leave the country.