The former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont has voluntarily appeared before Belgian authorities after the Spanish courts issued a third extradition order for the politician over his role in organising an unauthorised Catalan independence referendum in October 2017.
Mr Puigdemont said that he would comply with the warrant but he opposed extradition, invoking his immunity as a Member of the European Parliament, despite being barred from taking his seat in Brussels by the Spanish government. A Belgian judge decided to leave Mr Puigdemont at liberty but said must remain at the disposal of the Belgian courts and can’t leave the country, reports the Guardian.
Mr. Puigdemont’s appearance before the Belgian authorities came after four days of protests in Catalonia that have been marked by violent clashes between police and protesters.
The demonstrations began on Monday shortly after the Supreme Court announced the sentences for the nine Catalan leaders who were found guilty of sedition and misappropriation of public funds but cleared of the most severe charge of rebellion for organising the independence referendum.
Since then there have been fierce clashes between police and protesters, resulting in hundreds of arrests and injuries and the shutting down of train lines as well as Barcelona airport on Monday.
On Thursday, the violence took on a new dimension as bands of far-right demonstrators wearing Spanish flags emblazoned with the symbol of Francisco Franco and making fascist salutes descended on parts of the city. While the police sought to separate them from anti-fascist counter demonstrators, masked individuals from both groups, armed with stones and sticks, scattered around the city attacking each other.
More than 500,000 people converged on Barcelona on Friday afternoon as part of a general strike called for by the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural, two cultural associations whose leaders were among those sentenced on Monday.
Originally published on thescandal.net