Span­ish pros­e­cu­tor accuses sacked Cata­lan leader of re­bel­lion

Stabroek News - - WORLD NEWS -

BARCELONA/MADRID , (Reuters) - Spain’s state pros­e­cu­tor ac­cused sacked Cata­lan leader Car­les Puigde­mont yes­ter­day of re­bel­lion and sedi­tion as the for­mer re­gional pres­i­dent trav­elled to Bel­gium with other mem­bers of his ousted ad­min­is­tra­tion and hired a lawyer there.

As Madrid be­gan di­rect rule of Cat­alo­nia, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jose Manuel Maza called for charges of re­bel­lion, sedi­tion, fraud and mis­use of funds to be brought against Cata­lan lead­ers who or­gan­ised an il­le­gal ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence from Spain.

The Oct. 1 vote in the pros­per­ous re­gion with its own lan­guage and cul­ture has trig­gered Spain’s big­gest cri­sis in decades. On Fri­day, Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy dis­missed Cat­alo­nia’s se­ces­sion­ist gov­ern­ment, called a re­gional elec­tion for Dec. 21 and said the cen­tral gov­ern­ment would take di­rect con­trol.

That process be­gan smoothly on Mon­day as em­ploy­ees ig­nored calls for civil dis­obe­di­ence and turned up for work, while se­ces­sion­ist par­ties agreed to stand in the De­cem­ber poll.

A se­nior Span­ish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said on Mon­day that Puigde­mont had trav­elled to Bel­gium. He drove to the French city of Mar­seilles to catch a flight to Bel­gium with five other mem­bers of his sacked ad­min­is­tra­tion, Span­ish me­dia re­ported.

Bel­gian lawyer Paul Bekaert, whose web­site says he is in­volved in a hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion, said he had taken on Puigde­mont as a client but would not con­firm whether he was work­ing with him on a po­lit­i­cal asy­lum claim.

“I can con­firm Car­les Puigde­mont has ap­pointed me as his le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, as he is cur­rently in Bel­gium,” Bekaert told Reuters. “At the mo­ment there are no spe­cific dossiers I am pre­par­ing for him.”

Bekaert told Bel­gian broad­caster VTM that Puigde­mont had not fled Cat­alo­nia, was not hid­ing and would make a pub­lic ap­pear­ance in Brus­sels on Tues­day.

Af­ter what he de­scribed as an hour-long meet­ing in his of­fice in western Bel­gium, the lawyer - who quoted his ex­pe­ri­ence with asy­lum and extradition cases, as well as with Spain - said his client was in high spir­its, driven by “strong sup­port among his back­ers in Cat­alo­nia”.

Some of the most prom­i­nent ousted Cata­lan lead­ers, in­clud­ing Puigde­mont and Vice Pres­i­dent Oriol Jun­queras, had said they would not ac­cept their dis­missal.

But their re­spec­tive par­ties, PdeCat and Es­querra Repub­li­cana de Catalunya, said on Mon­day they would take part in the elec­tion called by Ra­joy, a tacit ac­cep­tance of di­rect rule from Madrid. The re­gional par­lia­ment can­celled a meet­ing for Tues­day, another sig­nal law­mak­ers ac­cepted they had been dis­missed.

Car­les Puigde­mont

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