Carles Puigdemont looked relaxed as he wandered through Brussels, but the ousted Catalan president could be in front of the Spanish High Court as early as Thursday (November 2). He is among 20 politicians from the autonomous region to be summoned for hearings in the wake of the October 1 independence referendum.
Puigdemont left Barcelona last week after his unilateral declaration of independence was quashed by the triggering of Article 155, stripping Catalonia of its powers.
In a press conference in Belgian capital on Tuesday (October 31), he said he would accept the outcome of an upcoming snap regional election and challenged Madrid to do the same.
The central government appeared willing. A representative in Barcelona told the press:
“The only thing worth mentioning from [Puigdemont’s] statement is his acknowledgement that on December 21 there will be democratic and legal elections in Catalonia I think it is important to stress this. And so I take this opportunity to invite all Catalans to participate, so all projects and ideas can be submitted to the vote. So through these elections we will be able to return self-governance to Catalans”, said Enric Millo.
Former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn was among five politicians who went to Brussels with Puigdemont. But while the leader said he’d only return to Barcelona if guaranteed a fair trial, Forn made his way back to the Catalan capital on Tuesday evening. He was greeted with pro-unity protests as he landed Barcelona.
The pair and 14 others have been summoned to Spain’s High Court. They and six politicians called to the Supreme Court face possible charges of rebellion – which carries a 30-year jail term – sedition and misuse of public funds.
Carmen Lamela, the High Court judge overseeing the case, said the group of 14 would have three days to pay a combined deposit of 6.2 million euros. This is the amount said to have been taken from Catalan public funds to help pay for the October 1st secession vote. If unpaid, their assets could be seized.