Sacked Catalan leader freed by Belgian judge
Catalonia's sacked separatist leader Carles Puigdemont yesterday denounced Spain as an undemocratic country that "unjustly" jailed his colleagues, his first reaction since he was freed on bail in Belgium.
Puigdemont and four former ministers were released with conditions Sunday night after turning themselves in to Belgian authorities to face a Spanish warrant for their arrest on charges of rebellion and sedition.
"Released without bail. Our thoughts are with colleagues unjustly imprisoned by a state that is far from democratic norms," Puigdemont said on Twitter hours after the five were released.
A Spanish judge in Madrid had on Thursday put Puigdemont's deputy and seven other deposed regional ministers behind bars because of a risk they would flee.
Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders insisted it was a legal matter and not one for politicians to deal with, despite recent criticism of Spain from some Flemish separatist members of his own government.
"We must let the Belgian and Spanish courts do their work," Reynders told his country's media.
Puigdemont and his allies escaped to Belgium a week ago after Spain dismissed the Catalan executive and imposed direct rule on the semi-autonomous region following the declaration of independence by the parliament there last month.
Spain issued European arrest warrants on Friday after Puigdemont and his allies ignored a summons to appear before a judge on allegations linked to the move to declare Catalonia an independent state.
Puigdemont's PDeCAT party said Sunday that he had turned himself in to show his "willingness not to flee from the judicial process but to defend himself in a fair and impartial process, which is possible in Belgium, and highly doubtful in Spain".