Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four close allies have been conditionally released by Belgian authorities but cannot leave Belgium without prior consent. The five voluntarily turned themselves in to authorities on Sunday, days after Spain had issued a European arrest warrant. A statement from the prosecutor's office says they must stay in Belgium and tell authorities where they will reside. They also must attend in person all court hearings and "comply with all summons made by judicial or police authorities." The five will have to appear in court, where the full grounds of Spain's request for their extradition will be ruled on.
Any decision there can be appealed. Puigdemont criticized Spain in an online comment upon his release, per the AP. "Free and without bail," he tweeted, adding that "our thoughts are with the comrades unjustly jailed by a state that strays far from democratic practices." The five fled to Belgium after Spanish authorities sacked them on Oct. 28 for seeking secession for Catalonia. Nine other deposed Cabinet members in the same rebellion case were sent to jail in Madrid, eight of them without bail, while the judge's investigation continues.
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