Sacked Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont and four associates turned themselves in to Belgian police on Sunday, following Spain’s issuing of an arrest warrant. Pascale Davies reports.
WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY The sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has handed himself in to Belgian Police. He's faces an arrest warrant by Spain for rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust relating to the Catalan independence campaign. Puigdemont and four of his associates traveled to Belgium shortly after Madrid took control of Catalonia after the region declared independence. Spain's Prime Minister called the election on the 21 December after firing the previous government. Puigdemont's Catalan Democratic Party announced on Sunday (05 November) he would lead the party in the vote. The Brussels prosecutor says the five wanted by Spain were taken into custody on Sunday and a judge will decide whether to execute an EU arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge on Monday (06 November) morning. In Barcelona, hundreds of protesters rally for the release of eight other jailed former Catalan leaders. Many chanting "freedom", heeding the calls of the organizers of the rally to plaster posters across Catalonia. Pro-secession sentiment rising as a poll published in Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper on Sunday showed that pro-independence parties would win most seats in the December 21 election - but they may fall short of a majority needed to revive the campaign. The poll estimates three of the pro-independence parties would take between 66 and 69 seats in the 135-seat parliament. Catalonia's statehood push has tipped Spain into its worst political crisis since its return to democracy four decades ago. Surging pro-independent sentiment in the region has in turn kindled nationalism across the country, and has slashed economy forecasts. BBVA predicts the Spanish economy could grow less than 2.5 percent in 2018 if the political uncertainty continues.