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1ST LEAD Extradition hearing of ex-Catalan leader extended to December 4 By Naveena Kottoor, dpa

Europe
17.11.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - Friday‘s hearing for ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four former ministers from his government has been extended to December 4, according to the prosecutor‘s office in the Belgian capital.

Puigdemont, wanted by Spain, absconded to Belgium after his regional government went ahead with an October 1 referendum on independence despite Spanish authorities declaring it illegal.

Spanish judicial authorities have issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and his advisers and have asked Belgium to extradite them to Spain. They have been charged with rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds.

Puigdemont and his colleagues attended their first extradition hearing on Friday behind closed doors. The hearing lasted a little over one hour.

The Brussels prosecutor‘s office said afterwards in a statement that the decision to postpone the proceedings was made in order to "ensure that all parties involved can prepare and clarify their position regarding the execution" of the European arrest warrants. 

On December 4, the lawyers of the five Catalan politicians are expected to make their case. 

A source close to the Catalan politicians said that a decision is expected eight to 10 days later.

Lawyers for the politicians told reporters that the prosecutor had called for the execution of the arrest warrant. 

Puigdemont, who has accused the Spanish authorities of conducting a "brutal judicial offensive" against members of the ousted government and has expressed concern that he will not receive an unbiased trial in Spanish courts, is expected to appeal a decision to extradite him.

The decision can be appealed in two higher courts, which could string out the extradition process for months.

On November 6, a Belgian judge decided that Puidgemont and his colleagues must not leave Belgium without the consent of a judge, must provide a real address and attend all court hearings in person until a final decision regarding their extradition has been made.

 

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