Catalan independence: Sacked leader Puigdemont not seeking asylum

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

Catalonia’s sacked President Carles Puigdemont says he has not travelled to Belgium to seek asylum.

He has appeared in public in Brussels with several colleagues after declaring independence from Spain last week.

Spain’s central government has taken direct control of Catalonia and sacked officials, following the region’s banned independence referendum.

Mr Puigdemont said he was not trying to escape justice but wanted to be able to speak freely.

He was speaking as Spain’s constitutional court suspended the declaration of independence made by the Catalan leader on Friday.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Puigdemont also said he would accept the result of snap Catalonia elections in December called by Spain’s central government when the region’s autonomy was suspended.

He did not clarify how long he would stay in Belgium, but said he would return once he was given “guarantees” by the Spanish government.

He said the Spanish prosecutor’s decision to charge him and a number of other cabinet members with offences that carry up to 30 years in prison showed the extent of the central authorities’ aggression.

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