A Belgian judge will decide next week whether the ousted Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, should be sent back to Spain to face rebellion charges.
Puigdemont’s lawyers said on Monday that the decision on executing a European arrest warrant and extraditing him for trial in Madrid would be made by a judge in Brussels on December 14.
The Catalan leader and four of his former ministers fled to the Belgian capital after Spain sacked their regional government for unilaterally declaring Catalonia independent following a referendum on secession that was rejected by Madrid as illegal.
The separatist leaders, who were axed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on October 27 after the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence, are refusing to return to Spain as they are charged with rebellion, sedition and accusations such as misappropriation of the public funds.
The charges brought against Puigdemont and his former ministers are severe and could see them jailed for up to 30 years under Spain’s criminal laws.
Puigdemont has also launched his campaign for regional parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on December 21.
Meanwhile, a Spanish Supreme Court judge decided earlier on Monday to keep Catalonia’s sacked vice president Oriol Junqueras and three other leaders in jail pending investigations into their role in October’s independence vote.
The judge, however, granted bail to six other former members of the Catalonia cabinet.
Since late October, Madrid has imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region to prevent separatist Catalans from launching similar plebiscites. Rajoy has already dissolved the Catalan parliament and called this month’s snap elections a bid to “restore normality” to the rich region.