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Judge has 24 hours to decide fate of former Catalan leader and ministers

The five men handed themselves in to police in Belgium this morning.

Carles Puigdemont pictured in Brussels last week
Carles Puigdemont pictured in Brussels last week
Image: Olivier Matthys/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 4.15pm

FORMER CATALAN LEADER Carles Puigdemont and four ex-ministers have handed themselves in to police in Belgium, according to prosecutors in Brussels.

Puigdemont and the former ministers were taken into custody to start the process of their possible extradition to Spain.

The five presented themselves to federal police at around 9am (8am Irish time), Brussels prosecutor’s office spokesman Gilles Dejemeppe said.

He said they haven’t been arrested and that Puigdemont and the four members of his disbanded Cabinet will be heard by an investigative judge later today.

The Belgian judge will have to decide within 24 hours what comes next for the five separatist politicians wanted in Spain on suspicion of rebellion for pushing through a declaration of independence for the northeastern Catalonia in violation of Spain’s Constitution.

Rebellion, sedition and embezzlement

A Spanish National Court judge issued warrants for the five absconded lawmakers on suspicion of five crimes, including rebellion, sedition and embezzlement, on Friday — a day after the same judge sent another eight former Catalan Cabinet members to jail without bail while her investigation continues.

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A ninth spent a night in jail and was freed after posting bail.

Puigdemont wrote in Dutch in his Twitter account yesterday that he was “prepared to fully cooperate with Belgian justice following the European arrest warrant issued by Spain”.

An opinion poll published by Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper today forecasts a tight electoral race between parties for and against Catalonia ending ties with the rest of Spain.

The poll predicts that pro-secession parties would win between 66-69 seats. They won 72 two years ago. Sixty-eight seats are needed for a majority.

Read: Catalonia leader summoned to Madrid to face questioning over ‘rebellion’

Read: Spain has dissolved the Catalan parliament, removed its leader, and called an election for late December

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