As it happened | Puigdemont from Brussels: “I’m not here to request asylum”

Ex-Catalan premier holds press conference, says he will not return to Spain until he has “guarantees”

Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont at today’s press conference.
Former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont at today’s press conference.Olivier Matthys (AP)

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Ousted Catalan premier to explain trip to Brussels

Ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont said he does not plan to avoid legal proceedings launched by Spanish prosecutors on Monday but that he has no plans to return to Spain until he is “given guarantees” that he will receive fair treatment.

Speaking at a packed press conference in Brussels today, he said that he and the former ministers of the Catalan government with whom he had traveled to the Belgian capital would return to Spain immediately if they were guaranteed a “fair” and “independent” trial with “a separation of powers.”

Puigdemont, who continues to consider himself the premier of the Catalan executive despite his dismissal under the application of Article 155 by Spain’s central government, said he had traveled to Brussels with his colleagues “to make clear the politicization of Spanish justice.”

“I am not here [in Belgium] to apply for political asylum, we are here to act with liberty and security,” said Puigdemont, speaking of the “threat” of 30 years in prison after Spanish state prosecutors filed formal accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds against the former premier, his ministers and members of the speakers committee of the Catalan parliament.

“The other part of the government, headed by [former] deputy premier [Oriol Junqueras] will remain in Catalonia as legitimate members of the Catalan government,” said Puigdemont.

“We have never abandoned the government. More than that, we will continue working,” he added, calling on the Catalan people to prepare “for a long road ahead.”

At the press conference, during which he spoke in Catalan, French and Spanish, the former premier also confirmed that his PDeCAT party would run in the December 21 election called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “It’s a challenge we are going to accept,” he said.

He said added that he would respect the results and called on Madrid to do the same.

Puigdemont insisted that the state that had called elections wanted to “put him in jail” for completing his electoral program. “We have a strictly European agenda here,” he said of his visit to Belgium. “We have had no other type of contact.”

During the press conference, Puigdemont was joined by seven members of his former cabinet who have also traveled to Brussels.

Simon Hunter

That concludes our live coverage for today, we'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest news.

Thanks for reading.

Simon Hunter
Simon Hunter

Former deputy premier Oriol Junqueras tweets: "Do every day what is in your hands to see that good defeats evil at the polls on December 21. On your feet, with determination, and until we are victorious."

Simon Hunter
Simon Hunter

Civil Guard vans carrying the former members of the Catalan government head towards their respective jails.

 

Simon Hunter
Simon Hunter

Here's our full story on the judge's order today to send eight former members of the Catalan government to jail.

http://cort.as/--x4k

Simon Hunter
Susana Urra

Spanish government sources said they have no comment to make on the Audiencia Nacional’s decision to remand eight officials in custody. Sources at La Moncloa noted that the government never comments on legal decisions, Europa Press reports.

 

Susana Urra
Susana Urra

The former officials will not be sent to Soto del Real penitentiary, as was initially expected. The Interior Ministry has informed the Audiencia Nacional that the group of eight will be distributed among five different prisons, all of them in the Madrid region. These are Alcalá de Henares (Madrid I), Estremera (Madrid VII), Valdemoro (Madrid III) Navalcarnero (Madrid IV and Aranjuez (Madrid VI).

Susana Urra
Susana Urra

These are the former Catalan officials who will be held in pre-trial detention: left to right, starting with the top row, Oriol Junqueras, Meritxell Borràs, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Carles Mundó, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn. The last one,Santi Vila, can avoid prison if he posts bail set at €50,000.

Susana Urra
Susana Urra

There are expressions of dismay and tearful faces on display among supporters of Catalan independence who have gathered outside the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. The group began singing Els Segadors, the official anthem of Catalonia, and chanting “llibertat” (freedom). But mostly there is silence, Iñigo Domínguez reports.

Susana Urra
Susana Urra

Judge Lamela has yet to issue a decision regarding an arrest warrant for ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and other former officials who are with him in Brussels, Fernando J. Pérez reports.

Susana Urra
Simon Hunter

"A black day for Catalonia," says Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau. "The government democratically chosen at the ballot boxes, in jail."

Simon Hunter
Susana Urra

The lawyer for Santi Vila, the only member of a group of eight former Catalan officials who has not been remanded in custody, says that “Vila talked with the government of Spain and with Puigdemont to find a negotiated way out of this (the crisis).”

Susana Urra
Simon Hunter

To achieve independence for Catalonia, the accused, according to the judge, “made use of the population encourage acts of public insurrection, disobedience and collective resistance to the legitimate authority of the state, occupying to that effect highways, streets and public buildings and subjecting officers of the law to incessant harassment.”

Simon Hunter
Susana Urra

The lawyer representing ousted deputy premier Oriol Junqueras about the decision to remand his client in custody: “This decision was prepared or premeditated.”

Susana Urra
Simon Hunter

The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, calls for “freedom for political prisoners” in this tweet.

“I am ashamed that in my country opponents are locked up. We don’t want independence for Catalonia, but today we say: freedom for political prisoners.”

Simon Hunter
Susana Urra

In her writ, the judge said that the suspects’ actions were “premeditated and perfectly prepared and organized.” For over two years they systematically ignored decisions issued by the Constitutional Court in their drive for independence, wrote Judge Carmen Lamela.

Susana Urra
Simon Hunter

Catalan parliament deputy Mireia Boya Busquets, of the CUP party, tweets:

"The legitimate government [of Catalonia] to jail. This is a fascist state. If we normalize this they will destroy us as a people. We will react for human rights and the Republic."

Simon Hunter
Susana Urra

The judge decided that the suspects are a flight risk because of their high incomes and the fact that other former officials who had been summoned to court on the same day instead fled to Belgium – including former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont.

Susana Urra
Simon Hunter

The lawyer acting for former Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, has tweeted a message about the judge's decision to hold the Catalan politicians in custody. "Jail for all. Feeling of great injustice. Sad day for democracy."

Simon Hunter
Simon Hunter

The far-left anti-capitalist CUP party is also calling for protests against the High Court judge's decision

"Freedom for the ministers," reads this tweet:

Simon Hunter
Simon Hunter

Pro-independence group ANC has already called for demonstrations outside the Catalan parliament and the region’s local council headquarters to call for the ex-ministers to be released.

 

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