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Fugitive Puigdemont must return to form government, court rules

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Fugitive Puigdemont must return to form government, court rules

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Catalonia's fugitive former president Carles Puigdemont cannot be re-elected without returning to Spain, the country's constitutional court has ruled.

Puigdemont fled to Brussels in October and has been in self-imposed exile ever since.

He is accused of rebellion and sedition back in Spain after holding a disputed independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1. The charges carry a potential sentence of up to 30 years in jail.

Puigdemont is the only candidate for the Catalonian presidency, but the Spanish constitutional court declared that he cannot lead the region's parliament from abroad and must be present.

It also ruled that he must seek judicial permission to attend the Catalan parliament.

Puigdemont's supporters had argued he could rule from Belgium via video link, something Madrid strongly contested.

Catalonia's regional parliament is due to vote for a new president on Tuesday.

Should Puigdemont return to Spain, he is likely to face arrest.