April 10, 2021

One year since the surprise arrival of Puigdemont and former advisers to Brussels

One year since the surprise arrival of Puigdemont and former advisers to Brussels



Former President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, celebrates a year in Belgium today, where he arrived by surprise escaped from Spanish justice with several former advisers and from where he maintains his objective to internationalize the Catalan crisis.

The only public act in which he will participate today, via telematics, is the presentation of the so-called "Consell de la República", which has a symbolic seat in the residence where he lives, in the town of Waterloo, about 20 kilometers from the city. Belgian capital.

In recent months he has received visits there from relatives and personalities and related politicians.

Today he shared on Twitter a photograph with the exlehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe, author of the homonymous plan that proposed a new statute that recognized the identity of the Basque people and their right to self-determination, which was rejected by the Spanish Parliament in 2005.

"Today a year ago we arrived in Belgium to continue defending the proclaimed republic and express ourselves freely and denounce the violation of fundamental rights," said the pro-independence politician in a message on that social network along with the Basque image.

The arrival of Puigdemont to Belgium took place on October 30, 2017, although in its social networks it had just published an image of the Palau de la Generalitat that could lead to think that it would continue working normally in the Sant Jaume square after the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to restore legality after the illegal declaration of independence.

The day before his arrival in Belgium, the Belgian State Secretary of Migration, Theo Francken, of the Flemish independence party N-VA, had suggested that Puigdemont could request "political asylum" in the country. That sovereignist formation has shown its support for the former president since his arrival.

It began with his "landing" in Belgium the persecution of the media, who tried to know his home.

First he stayed in a hotel in the European neighborhood and overwhelmed by the press moved to Leuven, where he went from a shady apartment to a flat, although the rumors pointed to living in a hotel owned by the family of former president of FC Barcelona Joan Gaspart.

That hotel was the headquarters for his candidacy in the elections of December 21; There, he convened the first campaign event of Junts per Catalunya, attended by former President Artur Mas, and celebrated his New Year's Eve dinner with his wife and a couple of friends.

In February it was revealed that he had settled in Waterloo, a town located outside of Brussels, in a villa of 550 square meters, rented for 4,400 euros per month by businessman Josep Maria Matamala.

On October 31, 2017, Puigdemont appeared in a massive and chaotic press conference where he clarified that he had not traveled to seek asylum in Belgium and began to speak of "exile" when he could not ensure, according to him, a fair trial in Spain.

He appeared with six other former regional councilors: Dolors Bassa, Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret, Joquim Forn, Meritxell Borràs and Clara Ponsatí, most of whom were fled from Spanish justice.

Bassa, Forn and Borràs would leave after a few hours to appear before the Spanish Justice. Comín, Serret, Ponsatí and also Lluís Puig would stay in Belgium.

On November 1, the Spanish Justice announced a lawsuit against Puigdemont and the ex-counsel for alleged crimes of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement, among others.

Puigdemont and ex-advisors in Belgium have experienced two Euroorder processes (in the case of Puigdemont, the second in Germany, where he became a prisoner, and, in Ponsatí, in the United Kingdom).

The Supreme Court withdrew the euroorden against him on July 19, when he resigned to try him in Spain only for the crime of embezzlement, and since then lives in Belgium as a free citizen.

Precisely, his detention in Germany happened on one of his trips to Europe, when last March he tried to return to Brussels from Finland by road after giving a lecture at the University of Helsinki.

He has also traveled to Copenhagen, Amsterdam and recently to the Faroe Islands, although only part of his trips transcend the press, sources close to Efe explained.

He can not return to Spain, where he would be automatically detained, until at least 20 years have elapsed, time it takes to prescribe the crime of rebellion of which he is accused, although he expects his situation to vary.

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