A court in Belgium refuses to extradite former Catalan regional minister Lluís Puig to Spain. This was announced by the public prosecutor's office in Brussels. The authority is now checking whether it is going to be revised. For other Catalan separatist leaders living in exile in Belgium, the court decision is a sign of hope.
Former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont has also been in exile in Belgium since the Catalan independence movement was crushed by the Spanish central government. His supporters, on the other hand, were sentenced to many years in prison for revolt in Spain. Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras has been jailed for 13 years.
Spain had obtained a European arrest warrant against the Catalan supporters of independence. The court in Belgium has now refused to enforce it. The government in Madrid was not authorized to issue such an arrest warrant, it said.
The Catalan independence movement had held a referendum against Madrid's will on October 1, 2017 and even proclaimed Catalonia's independence for a short time. The central government in Madrid then suspended the autonomy of the region and removed the regional government from office. Regional President Puigdemont and other leading independence advocates fled the country. Against the prison sentences for their comrades-in-arms is demonstrated again and again in Catalonia.