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Catalan separatist returns from Belgium to oppose Spanish law

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Former Catalan government member Meritxel Serrett was handed over to the Spanish Supreme Court on Thursday along with three other leaders who led a failed attempt to secede from Catalonia three years after fleeing Belgium.

A statement from Judge Pablo Larena said Seret was released on bail after being transferred to a Madrid court after returning to Spain from Brussels, where he had lived since October 2017. 8:

Serret, 45, fled Spain to Belgium in 2017 with other members of the regional government of Catalonia in the northeast, including regional President Carles Puigdemont, following his ineffective declaration of independence.

“We thought it was the best time to take this step, to send a message that we are here looking for political solutions to political conflicts,” Serrett said as he left court.

Serat, the former head of Catalonia’s agriculture, has been accused of disobedience and misuse of state funds, although Llarena says studies so far have not linked Seret to financial irregularities.

If convicted of disobeying clear court orders for not starting an innocent trial, he faces a fine and is barred from holding office for up to two years.

When Puigdemont fled Spain in October 2017, he was accompanied by Seret և six other members of the regional government of Catalonia, who were dissolved by the Spanish central government when their declaration of independence collapsed. The three of them returned to Spain shortly afterwards, where they were tried and found guilty during the 2019 trial, along with other separatist leaders remaining in the country.

Serret is the first high-ranking separatist to return since then.

He said he intends to run for the regional legislature of Catalonia, which he won in elections earlier this year.

His return to Spain comes just days after Puigdemont’s former regional ministers, Tony Comin and Clara Ponsati, were stripped of their immunity by the European Parliament as European lawmakers, where they won seats in 2019.

Puigdemont refused to return to Spain, claiming he could not have a fair trial.

The Catalan separatists have successfully fought against the extradition requests from Spain. Losing their immunity may pave the way for Llarena to try again.

Surveys show that Catalonia’s 7.5 million people are equally divided between those who want to secede and those who “want to stay in Spain”.

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