Catalan ex-leader, ministers due in Belgian court Nov 17

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and former members of the Government of Catalonia Clara Ponsati and Meritxell Borras attend a news conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe in Brussels, Belgium on October 31, 2017. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 06 November 2017
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Catalan ex-leader, ministers due in Belgian court Nov 17

BRUSSELS: Catalonia’s sacked separatist leader Carles Puigdemont and four former ministers are due to appear November 17 in a Belgian court which is hearing Spain’s case for their extradition, a judicial source said Monday.
The source told AFP the five would appear at 2:00 p.m. (1300 GMT) on November 17 in a Brussels court, their first hearing since the Belgian authorities freed them on bail Sunday.
Belgian prosecutors had said on Sunday that the five had to appear in court within 15 days of their release.
Belgium has 60 days to decide whether to send them back to Spain, under the rules of the European arrest warrant system.
Puigdemont and his colleagues — Meritxell Serret, Antoni Comin, Lluis Puig and Clara Ponsati — have the right to appeal against being sent back to Spain.
The five handed themselves in on Sunday morning in response to a warrant issued by a Spanish judge.
“Released without bail. Our thoughts are with colleagues unjustly imprisoned by a state that is far from democratic norms,” Puigdemont said on Twitter on Monday in his first comment since then.


Italian hostage freed after 3 years in Syria returns home

Updated 23 May 2019
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Italian hostage freed after 3 years in Syria returns home

  • The man who disappeared traveled to Turkey in October 2016
  • An official said the man was kidnapped by a criminal gang

MILAN: Italy’s defense minister says an Italian who had been held hostage in Syria for three years has been released and returned to Italy.

Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta late Wednesday confirmed Alessandro Sandrini’s arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport and thanked Italian intelligence services for their role in his liberation. Details were not disclosed.

Sandrini, who is in his early 30s, disappeared after traveling to Turkey in October 2016, and wasn’t heard from for over a year. In July 2018, a dramatic video showed Sandrini wearing an orange jumpsuit flanked by masked men brandishing automatic weapons, appealing to Italy to help free him as quickly as possible.

A local government in Syria affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Hayat Tahir-al Sham said he had been kidnapped by a criminal gang.