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Deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is apparently already in Belgium

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Deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is apparently already in Belgium
File photo: Eddy Kelele/AFP.
14:37 CET+01:00
As Spain's attorney general filed charges for sedition, rebellion and embezzlement against Puigdemont, Spanish press reported that the former Catalan regional leader is already in Brussels.

Puigdemont has already travelled to Belgium, according to Spanish daily El Periodico. The former Catalan delegate in Brussels, Amadeu Altafaj, allegedly organized the trip. 

Belgium's controversial Minister for Asylum and Immigration Theo Francken yesterday said Puigdemont could be offered asylum in Belgium because there was no longer clear evidence that he would receive a fair trial in Spain. 

That intervention by the Flemish nationalist was met with scorn from Spain and even Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, the leader of his own government. 

The spokesman for Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party (PP), Esteban Gonzalez Pons, described Francken's comments as "unacceptable".

These are "serious accusations against Spain's legal system" which should be "corrected immediately", he said in a statement. Francken has "violated the principles of solidarity and loyal cooperation between EU member states", Pons added.

Belgian PM Michel, who is the only serving EU leader to have criticized Spain's approach to the Catalan crisis, stressed however that there was no official offer of asylum for Puigdemont. 

"No request has yet been filed but things are moving fast," Francken told Belgium daily Le Soir. "We'll see what happens in the next hours and days." 

In an analysis piece published yesterday, Le Soir suggests Francken could be using Puigdemont's case to bolster the cause of Flemish nationalism and put pressure on Belgian PM Michel. 

A senior official in Spanish PM Rajoy's PP party, Fernando Martínez-Maillo, said it was a contradiction for Puigdemont to go to Brussels "where one of the key values is the defence of the state, the rule of law and the constitution," according to El Periodico.  

READ MORE: Belgium could offer Catalan leader asylum: minister

 

 

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