Catalan ex-president carles puigdemont, who fled to brussels, avoids a trial in spain and risks an international arrest warrant. The ousted regional president is scheduled to appear this thursday before the spanish state court in madrid.
His lawyer in belgium, however, said that his client would not return to spain for the time being. Puigdemont is charged with rebellion, among other things. If he does not appear at the appointments scheduled for thursday and friday, he is threatened with a warrant of arrest, which the belgian authorities had to issue. It is unclear whether puigdemont was also able to extricate himself from belgium.
"It is obvious that my client will wait for the time being," said lawyer paul bekaert on dutch television. He feared puigdemont would not get a fair trial in spain. This is how the ex-catalan boss will also argue if spain demands his extradition. The lawyer had previously represented members of the basque terrorist organization ETA and fought against their extradition to spain.
At the heart of the matter is the unilateral decision on independence passed by the catalan parliament last friday. The spanish government of prime minister mariano rajoy then placed the economically strong region in the northeast of the country under forced administration from madrid and disempowered the government. Puigdemont simply recalled the independence referendum exactly one month ago and emphasized: "despite the past and present threats, we continue to work."
Besides puigdemont – who presents himself on his new website under "president.Exili.Eu" presents – 13 other separatist local politicians are to face the state court. The judge carmen lamela also ordered them to deposit an amount of 6.2 million euros within three days. This is the estimated cost of the referendum on independence on 1 january, which was declared illegal. October.
Puigdemont and other defendants are accused, among other things, of rebellion against state power, rebellion and embezzlement of public funds. You could be imprisoned for up to 30 years.
The defendants are to make declarations in court and a decision is also to be made on "precautionary measures of a personal nature", according to judge lamela. This could mean immediate arrest for investigation.
If puigdemont does not appear in court, "there will probably be an extradition request to belgium and the belgian police will arrest him," spanish european politician and spokesman for the conservative ruling party PP, esteban gonzalez pons, told radio onda zero. Puigdemont’s lawyer could possibly delay trial until after new elections called in catalonia on 21. December.
Puigdemont, together with other supporters, had left for brussel in order to be able to act "in freedom and security". He wants to continue fighting for independence from the EU capital and show the world the "democratic deficit" in spain. He will not return to spain until he is given "guarantees" of a fair and non-politically influenced trial. The new elections and the result on 21. December he wants to accept – he expects the same from the spanish head of government, mariano rajoy.