The Strategist

Spanish media: Puigdemont to seek asylum in Belgium

10/31/2017 - 13:56

Carles Puigdemont and several members of his government, who did not recognize their resignation as Madrid reportedly arrived in Belgium on Monday. According to unofficial data, the purpose of their visit is to seek political asylum. Minister of Migration of Belgium, Theo Francken voiced a possibility of such a scenario the day before. Meanwhile, Spain has initiated criminal cases against the former leadership of Catalonia. Thus, the separatist political forces, which are declaring independence, have lost their influence and are in fact isolated.

Generalitat de Catalunya
Generalitat de Catalunya
The dismissed head of the Catalan Generalitat Puigdemont and former members of the autonomy government are now in Belgium. This was reported by several Spanish media with reference to sources. According to El Periodico de Cataluna newspaper, the former chairman of the Catalan government went to Brussels to meet with Flemish politicians. However, sources of La Sexta television channel assert that Mr. Puigdemont intends to ask the Belgian authorities for a political asylum.

The motive for seeking protection could be suits in the National Courts of Justice and the Supreme Court of Spain, filed on Sunday by the Attorney General's Office of Spain against 14 de jure former members of the Government and six members of the presidium of the parliament. Politicians, including Carles Puigdemont, are accused of rebellion, rebellion and embezzlement. They may face up to 30 years of imprisonment. The prosecutor's office also requires compensation or seizure of property for € 6 million - an amount "appropriate" to the costs of the October 1 referendum on independence.

On Sunday, Belgian Minister of Migration and member of the nationalist National Flemish Alliance Theo Francken, speaking on the air of the Flemish VRT television channel, did not rule out that Carles Puigdemont could receive political asylum in Belgium. However, later the Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel stressed that the issue "is not on the agenda" and asked his colleague "not to add fuel to the fire." In addition, under Belgian law, asylum is granted only if there are "clear signs" of persecution and impossibility of obtaining protection in the seekers’ country.

In Catalonia itself, the political forces that proclaimed independence are surrendering their positions. On Monday, the Parliament de facto recognized the dissolution. Its head Carme Forcadell canceled the tomorrow's meeting of the presidium "because the parliament is dissolved," and the main separatist forces, parties "Republican Left of Catalonia" and "Catalan European Democratic Party", said they would take part in parliamentary elections convened by Madrid on December 21.

According to left-wing Republicans led by ex-vice-premier Oriol Junqueras, who is also facing prison terms, these elections "will hold the republic together."

Opponents are counting on these elections to outstrip the political forces that stand for independence. "We must ensure that this is the clear end of the "process", "the end of the game", we must confirm this on December 21," said head of the Catalan branch of the left-center party "Citizens" Ines Arrimadas.

However, some members of the Generalitet continued to perform their functions on Monday, despite the government building surrounded by the Catalan police of Mossos d'Esquadra. Law enforcement officers let former officials into the building to pick up personal belongings, but some stayed there to work, as social networks reported.

Carles Puigdemont himself posted a photo in his Instagram account. It shows a view from the window of the office - a piece of sky and a fragment of the roof of the building of the Generalitat. "Good afternoon" - a photo was signed. Subscribers of the former head of the Catalan government asked questions whether he came to work or is really in Belgium.


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