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No Belgian ‘Crisis’ Over Deposed Catalan Leader Puigdemont: PM

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Wednesday denied his government was in “crisis” over the arrival of deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, an issue which risks reigniting Belgian communal tensions.

“There is a political crisis in Spain and not in Belgium,” Mr. Michel told the Belgian parliament, after Flemish separatist members of his coalition government spoke out in support of Mr. Puigdemont.

Speaking to MPs, Mr. Michel said the Catalan leader’s presence in Belgium was a “matter for the courts,” not the government.

Mr. Puigdemont and four other ministers arrived in Brussels on October 30 after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deposed the entire Catalan government and took over administration of the semi-autonomous region in response to its declaration of independence from Spain.

Belgian judges are currently considering a European arrest warrant that the Spanish central government filed for the ministers. The five are facing charges of sedition, rebellion, and misuse of public funds in connection with the October 1 referendum.

Mr. Puigdemont said he would face the charges in Spain, and turned himself in to Belgian police on Sunday. He and the other formal officials are due in court on November 17 for an extradition hearing.

With reporting by AFP.

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