Ousted Catalan leader says will not return to Spain to testify

02 November, 2017, 00:11 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Carles Puigdemont

Paul Bekaert, speaking at his law office at Tielt in western Flanders, said Puigdemont, who has yet to be seen in Belgium, was considering seeking asylum but it was not certain: "We have not yet decided yet".

Carles Puigdemont, the sacked Catalan leader, will give a news conference at 12:30 p.m. (730 EDT) on Tuesday in Brussels, the Belgian lawyer acting for him told Reuters.

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont attends a news conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe in Brussels, Belgium on October 31, 2017.

After Catalonia declared independence Friday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalan Parliament, fired all leaders and called for new regional elections, set to take place December 21.

In Spain, he has been charged with rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds.

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State Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza has filed those charges against them due to their hypothetical responsibility for the unilateral declaration of independence approved last Friday in the Catalonian Parliament. The judge would then determine whether those who have been summoned should go to jail pending an investigation, which may take up to several years before it is resolved.

Three former Catalan government advisors returned to Spain from Belgium late on Tuesday and were greeted at Barcelona's global airport by a small crowd chanting "off to prison". Should the leaders not respond to this, they can indeed be jailed pending trial and considered a flight risk.

When asked if he will return to Spain, Puigdemont said that he will only go back if unspecified "guarantees" are met by the Spanish government.

On Wednesday, rating agency Moody's said the declaration of independence and the suspension of self rule were credit negative for the region and the country, and that associated uncertainty would damage sentiment and consumer spending.

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