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Former Catalan leader Puigdemont back in Belgium

Mr Puigdemont fled Spain in October following an illegal declaration of independence.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has returned to Belgium to rally support for Catalonia’s separatist movement after Spain’s bid to extradite him from Germany on rebellion charges failed.

Mr Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Saturday morning and shook hands with the current regional president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, who had travelled from Spain to meet his predecessor.

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Carles Puigdemont with current regional president of Catalonia Quim Torra (centre) and former agriculture minister Meritxell Serret (Olivier Matthys/AP)

Mr Puigdemont fled Spain in October following an illegal and ineffective declaration of independence by secessionist politicians in north-eastern Catalonia.

He had been in Germany since March when he was arrested on a Spanish warrant while travelling by car from Finland back to Belgium.

But a Spanish judge withdrew the international warrant for Mr Puigdemont after a German court refused to extradite him for rebellion.

Mr Puigdemont can be arrested, however, if he returns to Spain.

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