Ex-Catalan president in Brussels, says he's not seeking asylum
After declaring Catalonia's independence from Spain and subsequently being removed from power, former-Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has visited Brussels. At a press conference, Puigdemont clarified that he's not seeking asylum in Belgium or escaping justice, but just wanted to speak freely. Puigdemont had earlier said that he would contest in the Catalan snap elections scheduled for December. Here's more.
What was the Catalan independence referendum?
On October 1, Catalan leaders held a referendum in defiance of Madrid to ascertain whether its population backed independence from Spain. 90% of 2.2 million voters, who amounted to 40% of Catalonia's population backed independence. Madrid deployed its police forces to forcibly prevent voting. The crackdown left 900 people injured. Numerous anti-Spain protests erupted afterward, with organizations including FC Barcelona backing Catalan independence.
Catalan Parliament declares independence from Spain
On October 27, Catalonia's regional parliament voted in favor of independence from Spain, ahead of a Spanish Senate vote to seize Catalan's autonomous powers. Seventy Catalan lawmakers voted for independence while 10 opposed. Opposition members walked out before the vote in protest. Earlier, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy had said that direct rule was necessary to return "law, democracy, and stability" to Catalonia.
Spanish PM dissolves Catalan parliament after independence declaration
On October 28, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalan parliament after MPs voted to declare independence from Spain. Rajoy, had earlier warned Catalonia that Madrid would move to suspend the region's autonomy. He dismissed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet. The Catalan crisis had begun after its leaders defied a Constitutional Court ruling to hold an independence referendum.
Puigdemont asks: Will Spain accept snap election results?
Puigdemont said he would welcome the choice made by the people in the upcoming snap elections. "I want a clear commitment from the state (Spain). Will the state respect the results that could give separatist forces a majority?" he asked reporters.
Puigdemont in legal trouble, faces sedition charges
Spanish prosecutors have charged Puigdemont and his cabinet members with sedition, misuse of funds and rebellion. These offenses could carry a punishment of up to 30 years imprisonment. Speaking in Brussels accompanied by five of his former cabinet colleagues, Puigdemont clarified that his intention was to not seek asylum or run from justice, but he would return to Spain once certain "guarantees" were provided.
Meanwhile, Spanish paramilitary forces raid Catalan police force offices
Meanwhile, Guardia Civil, the Spanish Paramilitary force reportedly raided at least eight Catalan police force offices looking for communications related to the referendum. Many top Catalan police officials have already been sacked.