Carles Puigdemont and Catalan ex-ministers released in Belgium pending ruling

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Hundreds Protest Against The Imprisonment Of Catalan Separatist Politicians And Leaders
More protests took place in Barcelona last night (Source: Getty)

Five Catalan separatists including the ousted president Carles Puigdemont have been released in Belgium to await a court hearing in Brussels.

Puigdemont handed himself into Belgian police early on Sunday. He will now appear in court within the next two weeks, so authorities can decide whether to yield him and his former ministers to Spain's arrest order.

The group also includes former agriculture minister Meritxell Serret, former health minister Antoni Comin, former culture minister Lluis Puig and former education minister Clara Ponsati. They are all banned from leaving Belgium pending the court appearance.

Puigdemont and his colleagues fled to Belgium on Monday after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired Catalonia's entire leadership.

The secessionist leader said he feared he would not be given a fair trial in Spain, but will cooperate with Belgian authorities.

The charges against the politicians include rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust.

More protests took place in Barcelona last night to coincide with the anti-establishment "Million Mask March". The worldwide event, organised by hacktivists Anonymous, also took place in other locations including London.

In Barcelona participants in the march held up placards supporting Puigdemont and his government.

The hacker group claimed it had launched cyber-attacks on Spain at the end of October, placing "Free Catalonia" banners on official websites of ministries and institutions.

Read more: Ex- Catalan leader Puigdemont turns himself in to Belgian police

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