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Meet Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer

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Meet Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer

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The lawyer for Catalonia’s sacked leader has solid experience defending political pariahs.

He’s represented Basque and Kurd separatists, and helped refugees seek protection abroad. But he says that’s not why Carles Puigdemont came to Brussels.

“He’s here legally, completely legally. He has the right to come here. He is not hiding here,” Paul Bekaert told Reuters in an interview.

He said Puigdemont had come to Belgium primarily because Brussels was “the capital of Europe” and a forum to address the wider world.

Bekaert, who has worked as a human rights lawyer for over 40 years, said he could take on other Catalan leaders as clients.

He said his experience fighting extradition requests from Madrid for Basque separatists would be useful — though new EU rules make it harder for European countries to refuse to send people to other EU states on what he called “political” charges.

Bekaert accused Madrid of abusing court processes for political ends, to crack down on Catalonia’s independence vote and on its supporters.