Ousted Catalan leader says will not return to Spain to testify

Aaron Brown
November 2, 2017

Mr Puigdemont said he had travelled to Belgium for "freedom and safety" after the Spanish government imposed direct rule and suspended his declaration of independence for the region.

Spanish prosecutors announced plans to seek sedition, rebellion and embezzlement charges against Puigdemont and his colleagues, who are now in Brussels "for safety purposes and freedom".

State Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza has filed those charges against them due to their hypothetical responsibility for the unilateral declaration of independence approved last Friday in the Catalonian Parliament.

Puigdemont is now in Belgium with some of his government members and hired a lawyer for his case.

Puigdemont "will not go to Madrid" on Thursday because "he will not have a fair trial" in Spain, Bekaert pointed out in statements quoted by the Belgian TV station NOS and reproduced by media.

On Tuesday a high court judge in Madrid summoned the entire ousted Catalan cabinet to appear for questioning as part of a rebellion investigation.

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Three former Catalan government advisors returned to Spain from Belgium late on Tuesday and were greeted at Barcelona's global airport by a small crowd chanting "off to prison".

The former leader said in a press conference he will return "immediately" to Spain only when the government provides certain "conditions" for his return.

In the meantime, Spanish prosecutors requested that the court demand $US7.2 million from each of the accused for "potential liabilities".

Uncertainty over how the crisis will play out has prompted more than 1,800 Catalonia-based companies to move their legal headquarters out of the region and the government to lower its national economic forecasts for next year.

On Tuesday, Moody's affirmed Catalonia's long-term issuer and debt ratings of Ba3, saying the government's reinforced control compensated for the increased risks, in particular the region's rapidly deteriorating business climate.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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