Ex-Catalan leader Puigdemont turns himself in to Belgian police

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Spain on Friday issued an arrest warrant on sedition and other charges against Carles Puigdemont, tightening the judicial net around the former Catalan leader who went Brussels after his government was sacked over a declaration of independence, reports Reuters. "The jailings have made everything more problematic".

Brussels will "study" the arrest warrant, a spokesman for the country's state prosecutor told AFP.

It said the judge can decide whether or not to arrest the five politicians and whether they should be kept in custody for promoting independence for Catalonia. "They are now being detained here".

Either of those two options could enable the exiled regional leaders to take part in the region's snap election on 21 December. Both leaders are key members of the Catalan independence movement.

At its home football match against Seville, FC Barcelona unveiled a giant Catalan flag and banners saying "Justice" to voice its opposition to the jailing of the ousted regional officials. Worldwide arrest warrants have also been issued for four of his associates. Including time for possible appeals, a final decision must be taken within three months.

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Puigdemont's lawyer in Belgium also said the arrest warrant had been prepared, but there has not yet been official confirmation from Spain's government.

His PDeCAT party put his name forward as its candidate to lead a united platform for the vote, Marta Pascal, its general coordinator, said. Catalunya en Comu said it would try to contest the elections in coalition with the Catalan platform of the Podemos party. Puigdemont would then have to be surrendered to Spain within 10 days.

Gilles Dejemeppe, prosecutor substitute and spokesperson of the public prosecutor's office, speaks during a press conference of the public prosecutor's office in Brussels, regarding deposed Catalan leader in Brussels.

Puigdemont and his fellow separatists claimed that a referendum on secession held on October 1 gave them a mandate for independence, even though it had been prohibited by the nation's highest court and only 43 percent of the electorate took part in the vote, which failed to meet global standards and was disrupted by violent police raids.