BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Catalonia’s pro-independence former leader Carles Puigdemont said on Tuesday that a Brussels court had postponed to Dec. 16 a hearing on an arrest warrant from Spain for his extradition.
Puigdemont went into self-imposed exile in Brussels after Catalonia made a failed independence bid in October 2017, when he headed the region’s government, and has lived there since.
Spain, which previously failed to have Puigdemont extradited, renewed the attempt after its Supreme Court this month sentenced nine other separatist leaders to up to 13 years in jail for their role in the events of 2017.
Spain’s acting deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo, said on Tuesday her government would not understand if Belgium decided not to hand over Puigdemont.
“As we see it, it is not respectable for this to be denied to a democratic state after the Supreme Court sentence,” she told broadcaster Onda Cero,
Catalonia made a short-lived declaration of independence following the referendum, which Spanish authorities had declared illegal.
A lawyer for Puigdemont, Simon Bekaert, said the legal arguments remained the same as they were just after the 2017 independence bid, when Spain put out the previous warrant for Puigdemont’s arrest, which Belgium rejected.
“We will of course invoke immunity,” Bekaert said.
Reporting by Ashifa Kassam and Paola Luelmo in Madrid, Jonas Ekblom and Clement Rossignol in Brussels; Writing by Ashifa Kassam,; Editing by Ingrid Melander and John Stonestreet