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Sacked Catalonia leader turns himself in, polls show independence strength

[BRUSSELS] Sacked Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont and four associates turned themselves in to Belgian police on Sunday, following Spain's issuing of an arrest warrant for rebellion and sedition.

All are wanted by Madrid for actions related to the push for the region's secession from Spain. Puigdemont has become the public face of that move for independence.

Other charges are the misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust relating to the secessionist campaign, which has thrown Spain into a political crisis just as its economy has recovered from a sharp downturn and banking stress.

Madrid has taken over administrative control in Catalonia, until then an autonomous region, and called new elections on Dec 21.

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Two polls on Sunday suggested pro-Catalonia independence parties will together win December's regional election although they may fall just short of a majority of seats in parliament needed to revive the secession campaign.

Parties supporting Catalonia staying in Spain would divide seats but garner around 54 per cent of the vote, the polls suggested.

Puigdemont travelled to Belgium shortly after Madrid took control. On Sunday morning, Puigdemont and four of his former councillors presented themselves to police in Brussels.

A judge will hear the defendants case on Sunday afternoon and has until Monday morning to decide whether the formalities for the extradition request have been fulfilled.

REUTERS

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