Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont not to return home soon, his lawyer says

November 1, 2017 7:02 pm

’s dismissed leader (R) along with other members of his dismissed government address a press conference at The Press Club in Brussels, Belgium, October 31, 2017. (AFP photo)

The leader of ’s Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, will not return home soon to face prosecution over his attempt to separate the region from Madrid, his lawyer says.
The separatist leader would not be back in Spain to appear in a court hearing on Thursday and Friday over his charges of rebellion, sedition and breach of trust, said the lawyer, Paul Bekaert, late on Tuesday.
Puigdemont was quite sure that his return to Spain from Belgium, where he has been since last week when a crackdown on separatists began in Catalonia, would further complicate the situation in Catalonia, the lawyer said.
“He has not told me, but as the situation now stands, I don’t see him going back to Spain in the coming weeks,” Bekaert said in an interview hours after Puigdemont himself said he was seeking special legal guarantees from Madrid to return home.
Puigdemont has clashed with the Spanish government since a referendum of independence was held in Catalonia on October 1. He has insisted that the vote, which came with a turnout lower than 50 percent of eligible voters, gave his administration the mandate to declare independence from Spain. The separatist leader and his allies in the parliament finally issued the declaration on Friday only to give Madrid the excuse to take over control of the region and dismiss the regional government.
Puigdemont then flew to Brussels with a group of his close associates. He is now wanted by the Spanish High Court, along with 13 other former members of the Catalan government. If he does not appear in the hearing in Madrid to testify on his charges, he could not stand a fresh election called for Catalonia on December 21.
Puigdemont said in his conference on Tuesday that he had no plans to seek refuge in Belgium. He said he would return and contest the elections if the government gave him the guarantees. He also called on the Catalans to maintain their momentum for independence, saying, however, that the road to democracy would be long.
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