The Latest: Puigdemont says not in Belgium to seek asylum

0
The Latest: Puigdemont says not in Belgium to seek asylum
The Latest: Puigdemont says not in Belgium to seek asylum

BRUSSELS (AP) – The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

Catalonia’s ousted president says that he came to Belgium to act “in freedom and safety” and not to seek asylum. He says he is in Brussels because it is the capital of Europe.

Carles Puigdemont says he and his team will “continue our work despite the limits imposed on us.”

Speaking to reporters in Brussels Tuesday, Puigdemont also said that he would accept the challenge of regional elections called for Dec. 21 “with all our strength” and that Catalan nationalists would vote.

Spain wants Catalonia “to abandon our political project, and they won’t achieve it,” he said.

___

1 p.m.

Ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is calling for avoiding violence and says dialogue is a priority, priority during his first address on Belgian soil.

Puigdemont on Tuesday recapped the issues which led him to leave for Belgium the previous day, but did not immediately say in his statement what he would do in Brussels or whether he would seek asylum. He was to answer questions at a packed conference room close to EU headquarters later.

___

12:30 p.m.

Catalonia’s ousted president has arrived at a Brussels Press Club for a news conference amid speculation that he will claim asylum in Belgium.

Carles Puigdemont walked into the building past a few protesters with Spanish national flags and one sign that said “Rule of Law.”

There has been speculation that Puigdemont may request political asylum in Belgium. Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Monday, the same day that Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials for declaring independence from Spain.

___

12:10 p.m.

Spain’s Supreme Court says it will investigate six ex-members of the governing body of the now-dissolved Catalan parliament for possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement following the parliament’s declaration of independence last week.

The six include ex-speaker of the parliament Carme Forcadell, one of the leading activists of Catalonia’s pro-independence movement for many years.

The ruling Tuesday came a day after Spain’s chief prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza announced he was seeking charges.

Rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges carry maximum sentences of 30, 15 and six years in prison.

Maza is also seeking similar charges against ousted regional leader Carles Puigdemont, and his No. 2, Oriol Junqueras

The court said the case would be handled by Judge Pablo Llarena Conde.

___

11 a.m.

A European lawmaker has confirmed that ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will give a news conference at 12:30 p.m. (1130 GMT; 7:30 EDT) at the Brussels Press Club.

Jordi Sole Ferrando, a European Parliament lawmaker and a member of the Catalan Republic Left party which supports Catalonia’s independence from Spain, made the announcement in a tweet .

There has been speculation that Puigdemont may request political asylum in Belgium. Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Monday, the same day that Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials, including the ex-regional leader.

Belgium allows asylum requests by citizens of other European Union nations, and in the past, some Basque separatists weren’t extradited to Spain while they sought asylum, causing years of friction.

___

10:20 a.m.

Spain’s foreign minister says the country’s authorities would be surprised if ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont seeks political asylum in Belgium and is granted protection by authorities there.

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said in an interview with Spanish Cadena SER radio that there is a level of “reciprocal trust” about the rule of law among members of the European Union.

“It would be surprising that he could receive the right to asylum under the current circumstances,” Dastis said, adding that the acceptance of an asylum petition “would not be a situation of normality” in relations between the two countries.

Belgium allows asylum requests by citizens of other European Union nations, and in the past, some Basque separatists weren’t extradited to Spain while they sought asylum, causing years of friction.

___

10:10 a.m.

One of Catalonia’s main separatist civil society groups says that while it considers that Spain “illegitimately” called an early regional election, it’s an opportunity to get a mandate to “ratify the republic.”

The Assemblea Nacional Catalan, or ANC, which only recognizes an independent Catalan republic, has made the comments in a statement Tuesday, after its leaders held a meeting late Monday.

The ANC says that elections to be held on Dec. 21 can’t be considered to have full democratic guarantees because they were “illegitimately called by the government in Madrid” and because two activists are in jail pending sedition charges, including ANC leader Jordi Sanchez.

But the statement said that grassroots organizations need to prepare a “joint strategy” before the regional election with the goal of “obtaining an uncontested victory that will ratify the Republic.”

___

9:35 a.m.

European officials say Catalonia’s ousted regional president will give a news conference in Brussels as speculation mounts as to whether he will request political asylum in Belgium.

Carles Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Monday, the same day that Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials, including the ex-regional leader.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that Puigdemont will speak publicly Tuesday in Brussels.

Over the weekend, a Belgian government official said that it wouldn’t be “unrealistic” for Puigdemont to request asylum.

Belgium allows asylum requests by citizens of other European Union nations, and in the past, some Basque separatists weren’t extradited to Spain while they sought asylum, causing years of friction.

Sacked Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont arrives for a press conference in Brussels, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Monday, the same day that Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials, including the ex-regional leader. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Sacked Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont arrives for a press conference in Brussels, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Monday, the same day that Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials, including the ex-regional leader. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
A Catalonia independence supporter wearing the Estelada flag stamped on his t-shirt claims against the Spanish State ahead the Catalan government’s Generalitat building in Barcelona, Spain, Monday Oct. 30, 2017. Spain’s state prosecutor said Monday that he would seek charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against members of Catalonia’s ousted secessionist government, pushing the crisis over the region’s independence declaration into an uncertain new phase. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Arroyo)
A por Spain union supporter speaks with a man at the Catalan government’s Generalitat building surroundings in Barcelona, Spain, Monday Oct. 30, 2017. Spain’s state prosecutor said Monday that he would seek charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against members of Catalonia’s ousted secessionist government, pushing the crisis over the region’s independence declaration into an uncertain new phase. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Arroyo)
FILE – In this file photo dated Thursday Oct. 26, 2017, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont makes a statement at the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain. According to the office of a Catalan member of the European Parliament, it is confirmed Monday Oct. 30, 2017, that ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has arrived in Brussels.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, FILE)
Advertisements