24th February 2020
Carles Puigdemont
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Belgian court: Puigdemont remains free whilst extradition considered

A court in Belgium has let Carles Puigdemont walk free on Friday whilst it decides on Spain’s extradition request for the former Catalan president.

The exiled independence leader appeared in Belgium’s public prosecutor’s office in the morning and formally rejected his extradition to Spain.

ALSO READ: Brussels asks Spain to translate third arrest warrant for Puigdemont

The Supreme Court in Madrid issued the third European arrest warrant against him on Monday, a matter of hours after the guilty verdict on the 2017 referendum leaders was out.

Belgium decided that the former Catalan president is also authorised to leave the country if he requests to do so.

Carles Puigdemont
Carles Puigdemont outside the Neumünster prison in Germany April 2018 (ACN)

In his first extradition procedure in autumn 2017 which was eventually withdrawn by Spain, Puigdemont, also in Belgium at the time, was allowed to walk free but was ordered not to leave Belgium. He was also required to set a permanent residence and to appear in court whenever he was summoned.

ALSO READ: Carles Puigdemont: verdict condemns ‘more than 2m people’

In his second such procedure, in Germany, he was provisionally imprisoned for 12 days and then released for the three months until his case was considered. A court in Schleswig-Holstein eventually decided to extradite him but only for misuse of funds. Spain rejected it and withdrew its European arrest warrant.

On Tuesday, one day after the new arrest warrant was issued, Belgium asked Spain’s authorities to translate their request to either French, Dutch, German or English, after having Madrid only sent it in Spanish.

ALSO READ: ‘No chance’ to extradite Puigdemont on ‘fabricated’ terrorism case, says lawyer.

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