The Latest: Lawyer says no decision by Puigdemont on asylum
Oct. 30, 2017
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local):
The Belgian lawyer of ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says that it is not decided yet whether he will be seeking political asylum in Belgium.
Paul Bekaert told VRT network that Puigdemont "consulted me and came to ask for advice."
He added that "he is not in Belgium to specifically ask for political asylum. That is not decided yet."
The office of a Catalan member of the European Parliament has confirmed that ousted President Carles Puigdemont has arrived in Brussels.
After a day of rumors, Umberto Gambini, the head of office of legislator Ramon Tremosa, said that "He is in Brussels! Yes confirmed."
It is expected that Puigdemont will likely have a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday but it remains unclear whether he will ask for asylum.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says his players are not distracted by the events taking place in Catalonia over demands for the region's independence.
Valverde told a news converence in Athens on Monday that "we can see what's happening, but we are concentrated on our own task. That's to win matches and make the fans happy."
Barcelona traveled to Athens to play Greek champion Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday. Valverde received an emotional welcome from fans of his former team.
The Spanish government has taken over the regional government of Catalonia after Catalan lawmakers voted Friday to make the region independent. That will end after an early regional election on Dec. 21. Barcelona is the largest city in Catalonia.
An official says that the Catalan parliament has been formally dissolved and that its speaker will be leading a transitional committee of lawmakers until a regional election is held on Dec. 21.
A parliamentary spokeswoman says that Speaker Carme Forcadell has cancelled a Tuesday meeting of the regional parliament's speakers' body that had been previously scheduled. The spokeswoman spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday ordered the regional parliament's dissolution to try to find a way out of Spain's political crisis.
Separatist lawmakers passed a declaration of independence in the regional parliament on Friday. Most opposition legislators boycotted the vote.
Spain's top prosecutor is seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges for members of the governing body, including Forcadell, who is already being investigated for disobedience for allowing debates and votes related to the secession bid.
--By Aritz Parra.
A spokeswoman for the main Catalan party ousted from the regional government for pushing ahead with an independence bid has vowed to defeat pro-union political forces in an election at the end of the year.
PDeCAT party coordinator Marta Pascal told reporters during a news conference following a meeting of party officials that "Mr. Rajoy, we will see you at the ballot boxes." Pascal was referring to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose government has taken control of Catalonia.
Ousted regional president Carles Puigdemont didn't attend the meeting. Puigdemont is in Brussels, according to a Spanish government official, but Pascal didn't confirm his whereabouts.
Making use of extraordinary powers, the Spanish government has fired the Catalan government, dissolved the regional parliament that passed an independence declaration last week and called an election for Dec. 21.
Spain's top prosecutor is seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against Puigdemont.
The Spanish government says ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has travelled to Brussels.
The information came from an official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to be named in the media. The trip couldn't be confirmed by Puigdemont's aides.
Puigdemont was among those Catalan officials fired on Saturday by Spain as central authorities in Madrid take over affairs in the northeastern region after Catalan lawmakers voted Friday for independence.
Spain's top prosecutor on Monday filed a lawsuit against Puigdemont and other members of his Cabinet, seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges, which are punishable with lengthy prison time.
Belgian Asylum State Secretary Theo Francken said over the weekend that it would be "not unrealistic" for Puigdemont to request asylum.
— by Aritz Parra.
A spokesman for a Catalan separatist party ousted from the regional government for pushing ahead with an independence bid has confirmed plans for the party to run in an upcoming regional election.
Lawmakers of the Catalan Republic Left, or ERC, party, and their ruling coalition partners, passed a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain on Friday with the support of other separatist legislators.
Making use of extraordinary powers, the Spanish government has fired the Catalan government, dissolved the regional parliament and called an election for Dec. 21.
ERC party spokesman Sergi Sabria told reporters after a meeting of the party leadership that "we will find the way to participate on Dec. 21. Dec. 21 can be one more opportunity to consolidate the republic."
Spain's State Prosecutor says it's seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement for members of the ousted Catalan Cabinet and the governing body of the regional parliament that allowed a vote to declare independence last week.
The crimes can be punished, respectively, with up to 30, 15 and six years in prison under Spanish laws.
The country's chief prosecutor, Jose Manuel Maza, said he would ask the judges for preventive measures against the officials, but didn't specify if those would include their immediate arrest and being sent to jail while awaiting trial.
He said one lawsuit seeks charges for ousted Catalan officials in the country's National Court. That includes regional leader Carles Puigdemont and his No. 2 official, Oriol Junqueras, although Maza didn't name them.
Maza said that a second lawsuit concerning members of the governing body of Catalonia's parliament, including Speaker Carme Forcadell, was filed in the country's Supreme Court.
Some elected officials in Spain, including regional lawmakers, enjoy a degree of immunity before courts and can only be tried in the highest court.
Maza spelled out the charges in a brief appearance before cameras in Madrid. He took no questions from reporters.
Catalan separatist politicians are holding meetings in Barcelona with their eyes set on a regional election in less than two months called by Spain's central government to try to end a push for independence.
The Catalan Cabinet has been ousted and the central Spanish government has taken charge of the northeastern prosperous region until the election is held Dec. 21.
The two political parties in the separatist coalition that ruled until last week are holding separate meetings.
Some of the deposed members of the Catalan Cabinet are attending the meeting at the PDeCAT headquarters in central Barcelona, but there was no sign of ousted regional leader Carles Puigdemont, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Catalonia's fired vice president, Oriol Junqueras, and regional parliamentary Speaker Carme Forcadell, who still symbolically holds her post, have joined the meeting of the Catalan Republic Left, or ERC, party.
Neither has clarified if its plans to run in the election, which would imply acknowledging that an independence declaration last week was symbolic. They need to submit plans by Nov. 7 if they want to repeat their coalition, and a full list of candidates by Nov. 18.
Spanish financial markets are rising after a poll suggested support for independence in the region of Catalonia is waning.
The Ibex 35 stock index was up 1.4 percent at 10,338 points in Madrid on Monday, about as much as it had fallen on Friday, and Spanish government bonds were also higher.
The driver seems to have been a poll published by Spanish daily El Pais over the weekend that indicated more Catalans are against the declaration of independence than in favor. That suggests the independence movement might lose power when a new regional election is held.
Analysts at UniCredit bank wrote in a note to investors that although tensions might escalate ahead of the elections in December, "given the peaceful nature of both movements we do not expect a violent or prolonged degeneration."
The Spanish government is giving time to the members of the ousted Catalan Cabinet to take their personal belongings from official buildings. But Madrid is warning them that they face criminal charges if they attempt to perform any official duties.
Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said the government was giving the separatist politicians "a few hours" of time because the goal was "to recover normality in a discreet way and under the principle of minimal intervention" from central authorities.
Zoido is also hosting a meeting in Madrid with the new head of the Catalan police and other officials in the home affairs department of the troubled region.
The meeting with the Mossos d'Esquadra commissar Ferran Lopez, who was number two in the forces' hierarchy until last week, comes three days after Spain's central authorities begun to directly manage affairs in Catalonia.
A member of the ousted Catalan Cabinet has defied his sacking over Catalonia's independence bid by showing up at work and posting a photo on social media in his office.
Josep Rull's tweet said: "In the office, exercising the responsibilities entrusted to us by the people of Catalonia. Until last week, Rull was the northeastern region's top official in charge of territorial affairs.
Spanish authorities said that the deposed officials will be allowed to take their personal belongings from official buildings, but barred from performing any official duties.
Two police officers entered and left the building in central Barcelona, followed by Rull himself minutes later, who told reporters and supporters that he would continue carrying out his agenda.
The 12 members of the former Cabinet, including regional leader Carles Puigdemont, face charges of usurping others' functions if they try to remain in power.
Ousted Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has posted on social media a photo of a courtyard at the seat of the regional government in central Barcelona.
The ambiguous Instagram post , accompanied by the words "Good morning" in Catalan and a smiley emoticon, has left many guessing if Puigdemont is inside the premises.
The Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is directly managing affairs in Catalonia. The move came after firing Puigdemont and his Cabinet on Friday in response to the separatist regional government voting to declare independence for the northeastern region of 7.5 million.
Rajoy's government has already taken control of the regional police. He has also dissolved parliament and called an early election for Dec. 21.
Catalonia's civil servants face their first full work week since Spain's central government overturned an independence declaration by firing the region's elected leaders.
All eyes will be on whether the transfer of power will be smooth or face opposition, which could deepen a monthlong political crisis.
There was no immediate sign if ousted regional leader Carles Puigdemont and other members of his deposed Cabinet would try to go to their offices Monday, after the regional parliament proclaimed independence from Spain in a secret ballot Friday.
Puigdemont has vowed peaceful and "democratic opposition" to his Cabinet's dismissal, but he hasn't clarified if that means accepting an early regional election as a way out of the deadlock.
He's likely to be accused of rebellion on Monday for pushing ahead with secession.