Ousted Catalan Leader in Brussels as Spanish Prosecutors Seek Charges - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Ousted Catalan Leader in Brussels as Spanish Prosecutors Seek Charges

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Ousted Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont says he will not be seeking asylum in Belgium, a day after he traveled there, while Spanish prosecutors announced plans to seek sedition, rebellion and embezzlement charges against Catalan leaders.

Puigdemont said Tuesday in Brussels, “I am not here in order to demand asylum,” saying he was there “for safety purposes and freedom.” But he did not specify how long he would stay.

Chief prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza said Monday he would seek to charge the leaders of Catalonia who led a push to secede from Spain. It is up to a court to decide whether to move forward with the charges, which could bring lengthy jail terms, including up to 30 years for rebellion.

A disputed referendum in Catalonia on October 1 ended with a vote for the autonomous region to break away from Spain.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of a united Spain took to the streets of Barcelona Sunday to voice their rejection of Catalonia’s declaration of independence.

Chanting “Viva Espana” and waving Spanish, Catalan and European Union flags, the protesters marched in Catalonia’s capital to show they supported the Spanish central government’s dismissal of Catalonia’s cabinet and quashing of the region’s secession push.

Protesters also held banners reading, “We won’t let Spain be torn apart into pieces” and `”The awakening of a silenced nation,” among others.

“We have organized ourselves late, but we are here to show that there is a majority of Catalans that are no longer silent and that no longer want to be silenced,” said Alex Ramos, head of the pro-union Catalan Civil Society.

Organizers said the rally attracted more than 1 million people, but police put the figure at 300,000.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved Catalonia’s parliament, just hours after the regional body voted Friday in favor of independence from Spain.

In addition to dismissing the regional parliament, Rajoy has called for snap Catalan elections on December 21 and has stripped Catalonia’s most senior police officials of their powers.

Inigo Méndez de Vigo, a spokesman for the Spanish government, said Puigdemont and all other Catalonian leaders will be eligible to run in the December election.

“We are giving the voice to the Catalans in a legal and free elections, not so-called referendum which is outside the law,” he said. “So, this is the way of telling the Catalans, if you want to vote, you have the right to vote, do it under the conditions of the law and freely.”

The resolution to secede from Spain was drafted and presented by the more radical separatist factions of the regional coalition headed by Puigdemont, and it passed with 70 votes in favor, 10 against and 2 blank votes.

Friday’s resolution by the Catalan regional parliament ends a period of uncertainty over Catalan independence that has prevailed since an October 1 referendum on independence that won 90 percent of the vote in a 50 percent voter turnout.

Puigdemont could face a 25-year prison sentence for sedition. The central government already has jailed two separatist leaders and is prosecuting other officials accused of using public resources to support the independence bid.

Belgium’s Asylum and Migration minister, said his country could offer Puigdemont asylum. Theo Francken said on Twitter Sunday that independent asylum authorities would make the final decision about whether to grant asylum to the deposed leader.

By: Walter Metuth

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