Spain

Updated at 12:40 a.m. ET on Monday

Carles Puigdemont, who led Catalonia's independence push before slipping into Belgium to evade rebellion charges, was detained by German police Sunday as he crossed into that country from Denmark, according to a tweet from his lawyer.

Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said Catalonia's former president was on his way back to Belgium from Finland, where he had been meeting with lawmakers, when police stopped him on a European arrest warrant.

Carles Puigdemont, the ousted separatist leader of Catalonia, is abandoning his bid to be elected once again as president of northeastern region of Spain.

In a video message posted from Belgium where he's in exile, Puigdemont called the actions of the Spanish authorities only "a temporary setback."

Carles Puigdemont aims to return to office as president of Catalonia — despite the fact it's unlikely he'll actually return there in person. He's currently living in Belgium, facing immediate arrest if he goes back home.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Nearly three months since Catalans cast their votes for independence from Spain, setting off a weekslong showdown between their regional government and Madrid, Catalonia opened its polls again on Thursday — and promptly put pro-independence parties back in control, by a very slim margin.

Spain's Supreme Court has withdrawn its international warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the ousted Catalan leader.

Puigdemont and four other former Catalan ministers have been fighting their extradition from Belgium. The ruling leaves to the defendants the decision whether to return to Spain.

The Associated Press reports that the five are facing charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement related to their roles in staging an independence referendum in October that Spain declared illegal.

Four Catalan politicians and activists will remain in Spanish custody after a judge denied bail for the separatist leaders — including the erstwhile vice president of Catalonia, who is on the ballot for special elections on Dec. 21 and will be campaigning from behind bars.

Six other separatist leaders have been released on bail, to the tune of 100,000 euros (about $118,000) each, The Associated Press reports. The judge also ordered the confiscation of those politicians' passports.

The prosecutor's office in Brussels says the former president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, has turned himself in to police, along with several of his former government ministers. Now, a Belgian judge must decide whether to extradite the ousted officials to Spain, where they face charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds for their roles in Catalonia's attempt to secede from Spain.

On Monday morning, Catalan officials showed up at their offices — and, in some cases, were escorted out by police just minutes later.

The Spanish government instituted direct rule over the formerly semi-autonomous region of Catalonia on Friday, which had declared independence from Spain.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters decrying the Catalan government's push for independence came together in Barcelona on Sunday, in one of the biggest gatherings of Spanish unity supporters.

Waving flags and singing "Viva España," the marchers gave voice to what some have called the silent majority in a region whose government declared independence from Spain on Friday.

Updated at 5:15 a.m. ET

Spain was preparing to impose direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia after the region's leader Carles Puigdemont declined to categorically renounce an independence referendum, the prime minister's office announced Thursday.

Spain's government said it would hold a special Cabinet meeting and "approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards."

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday issued a warning to the country's would-be breakaway region of Catalonia, saying Madrid would prevent any move toward independence.

Rajoy's comments, published in the German newspaper Die Welt, come amid a growing political crisis over the region in eastern Spain of 7.5 million people that voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum on Oct. 1.

Scenes of chaos and violence unfolded in Catalonia as an independence referendum deemed illegal by Madrid devolved quickly on Sunday.

As police followed orders from the central government to put a stop to the vote, they fired rubber bullets at unarmed protesters and smashed through the glass at polling places, reports The Associated Press. Three hundred and thirty-seven people were injured, some seriously, according to Catalonia's government spokesman.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Barcelona, protesting the Spanish government and expressing support for a planned Oct. 1 vote on Catalan independence.

Spain considers the referendum to be illegal. On Wednesday, Spanish police with court-ordered search warrants seized millions of ballots and detained more than a dozen Catalan politicians. A top treasury official is being held on sedition charges, the BBC reports.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Police have shot and killed Younes Abouyaaqoub, the alleged driver of a van that plowed into pedestrians last week in Barcelona, Catalonia's president confirmed Monday. He said the suspect was wearing what turned out to be a fake explosives belt.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

A Catholic Mass was held in Barcelona on Sunday to honor the victims of last week's terror attacks, as authorities continued a manhunt for at least one suspect in the killings of 14 people along Spain's northeast Mediterranean coast.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Barcelona that thousands attended the Mass, held in Spanish and Catalan languages, at the city's iconic Sagrada Familia Basilica. Among those present were King Felipe and Queen Letizia.

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