By Kubra Chohan and Alyssa McMurtry
ANKARA / MADRID
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four other members of his Cabinet turned themselves into Belgian police on Sunday after a Spanish judge issued a European arrest warrant for them on Friday.
Gilles Dejemeppe, spokesperson for the Belgian Prosecutor’s Office, told a press conference that they were taken into custody at 9:17 a.m. CET (0817GMT) and officially notified of the European arrest warrants.
The leaders will testify in front of a judge later on Sunday, and by 9:17 a.m. Monday morning the judge will have to make a decision on how to proceed with the warrant against the separatist leaders, Dejemeppe told the media.
Now there are three options available to the judge: reject the European arrest warrant, accept the warrant and keep the five politicians behind bars, or accept the warrant and grant them conditional release.
On Thursday, the five separatist leaders who flew to Brussels early this week skipped their required appearance at a court hearing in Madrid.
But of the nine ministers who did attend the hearing, eight were sent into pre-trial detention without the possibility of bail.
Puigdemont and his entire Cabinet face the extremely serious charges of rebellion, sedition, and misappropriation of funds after last month’s independence proclamation in the Catalan Parliament.
According to the judge, in recent months, the Catalan politicians “encouraged and used intimidating and violent force from the independent sectors of the population, calling for insurrection and challenging the constitutional order”.
On Thursday evening, thousands of pro-separatist Catalans took to the streets to protest the arrests of the former regional leaders. A pro-independence union has also called for a general strike to take place next Wednesday.