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Ex-Catalan leader hands himself in to Belgian authorities after warrant issued

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

By Associated Press Reporters

Fugitive ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has handed himself in to Belgian justice authorities after Spain issued a new warrant for his arrest following the sentencing of 12 of his former colleagues.

Mr Puigdemont's office said that he, "in the company of his lawyers, voluntarily appeared before Belgian authorities" in relation to the arrest warrant.

It said Mr Puigdemont rejects the warrant and opposes any attempt to send him back to Spain.

Mr Puigdemont and a number of his associates fled to Belgium in October 2017 after they were summoned to court over the secessionist push he led and the holding of an independence referendum that the Spanish government said was illegal.

Spain's Supreme Court said an investigating judge has told Belgian judicial authorities that Mr Puigdemont possesses no parliamentary immunity that might prevent his extradition to Spain.

A court statement said Belgian authorities asked for clarification on the matter early on Friday.

Mr Puigdemont is sought by Spain on possible charges of sedition and misuse of public funds. He has so far avoided extradition from Germany and Belgium.

The separatist leader was elected as a European legislator in May, but the court said Judge Pablo Llarena told Belgium that Mr Puigdemont did not take office because he did not swear on the Spanish constitution - a prerequisite under Spain's electoral rules.

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