Meet Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer

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By Euronews
Meet Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer

<p>The lawyer for Catalonia’s sacked leader has solid experience defending political pariahs.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>“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.</p> <p>He said Puigdemont had come to Belgium primarily because Brussels was “the capital of Europe” and a forum to address the wider world.</p> <p>Bekaert, who has worked as a human rights lawyer for over 40 years, said he could take on other Catalan leaders as clients.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>Bekaert accused Madrid of abusing court processes for political ends, to crack down on Catalonia’s independence vote and on its supporters.</p>