Ex-Catalan leader to hold press conference in Belgium
Brussels: Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who was sacked when the Spanish government imposed direct-rule on the region, was preparing to hold a press conference here a day after Madrid's Attorney General announced a rebellion and sedition lawsuit against him.
Sources close to Puigdemont told Efe news that the ousted leader would speak from an undisclosed location.
"He has not fled Barcelona," Paul Bekaert, a Belgian lawyer hired by Puigdemont, told the media.
When pressed on whether the dismissed Catalan leader would apply for asylum, he said that all options were still open and nothing had been decided.
News that Puigdemont and five of his advisors had travelled to Brussels broke just as Spain's top prosecutor, Jose Manuel Maza, announced that a case had been brought to the National Court against the once president of Catalonia and his entire regional cabinet, which included charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.
In addition, Maza said that a second lawsuit had been filed at the Supreme Court against the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, as well as five top officials in the regional chamber, for allowing the independence declaration to be voted through by lawmakers on Friday.
Minutes after the unilateral declaration of independence, Spain's conservative government triggered Article 155 of the Constitution, which dismissed the Catalan executive en masse, dissolved the parliament and scheduled fresh local elections for December 21.
Spain's Constitutional Court is expected to formally dismiss Catalonia's independence declaration later on Tuesday.
The five associates reported to have travelled with Puigdemont to Brussels include former regional councillor of governance, Meritxell Borràs; health, Antoni Comín; interior, Joaquim Forn; employment and social affairs; Dolors Bassa and agriculture, Meritxell Serret.
Belgium's secretary of state for migration Theo Francken on Sunday said that Puigdemont could apply for political asylum in Belgium to avoid imprisonment in Spain.
But Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel have not commented on Francken's remark yet.