Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont has presented himself voluntarily to Belgian authorities following the third European Arrest Warrant issued against him by a Spanish court. For the third time, a court in another EU country has decided to release him, this time without bail, only requiring him to communicate his place of residence, trips and activities. The first hearing on his extradition will be on 29th October.
Judge Pablo Llarena reactivated the European Arrest Warrant on Monday, calling for Puigdemont's immediate arrest on charges of sedition and misuse of public funds. "I will be at the disposal of the Belgian justice system for whatever they need me for," he said today after appearing before a judge.
Puigdemont presented himself yesterday, at 10am local time, to Belgian authorities. At 3pm he appeared before prosecutors and at 6:45pm in court. The procedure was prolonged whilst awaiting a response from Madrid. Sources close to the president say he "spent the night in a building belonging to Belgian authorities", but that he wasn't arrested at any point.
Before the judge, the president formally opposed his extradition and argued he enjoys the immunity of an MEP having been elected to the European Parliament in May. Llarena, for his part, plans to "immediately" tell Belgian authorities that Puigdemont doesn't have immunity because he didn't swear to uphold the Spanish Constitution in a ceremony in Madrid and was thus left off the official list of names submitted by Spain's Electoral Commission.
After leaving court today, the president returned to Waterloo. For the moment, he is the only one of the Catalan exiles to have had the arrest warrant against him reactivated since the sentencing on Monday of his former government colleagues.
A resultes de la tercera euroordre cursada pel jutge Llarena, ahir a primera hora vaig comparèixer voluntàriament davant les autoritats belgues, que aquest matí han decretat la meva llibertat sense fiança. Gràcies a tots els qui m'heu fet arribar missatges d'ànims i de comprensió— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) October 18, 2019
Translation: "As a result of the third European Arrest Warrant sent by judge Llarena, first thing yesterday I appeared voluntarily before Belgian authorities, who this morning have decreed my release without bail. Thank you to all those who've sent me messages of encouragement and understanding."