Catalonia’s ousted regional president said Tuesday he traveled to Brussels to seek “freedom and safety” after Spain blocked his bid for Catalan independence and sought to bring charges against him that could put him in prison for decades.
A day after he arrived in Brussels, Carles Puigdemont told a packed news conference he would return home “immediately” if a fair judicial process were guaranteed in Spain. He dismissed speculation he would seek political asylum in the Belgian capital.
“Here we have better guarantees for our rights and we can meet our obligations from here,” he said at the Brussels Press Club, which is right next to the European Union’s headquarters.
Puigdemont said he and his team will stay in Brussels and “continue our work despite the limits imposed on us.”
The Spanish government has cracked down on Puigdemont’s attempt to take Catalonia, a wealthy region of some 7.5 million people, out of Spain. The government says Puigdemont flouted the Constitution by holding an Oct. 1 independence referendum. The Catalan parliament approved a motion declaring independence last week, but the Spanish Constitution says Spain is “indivisible.”
Spain’s chief prosecutor is seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against Puigdemont and his no. 2 Oriol Junqueras before Spain’s National Court.
Separately, he is seeking similar charges before the higher Supreme Court for six ex-members of the governing body of the now-dissolved Catalan parliament because they enjoy a degree of immunity and could only be tried by this court. Earlier Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to investigate the case against the six.
The National Court has yet to decide in the case against Puigdemont.