AP NEWS

Ex-Catalan leader: EU ballot opens door to return to Spain

March 12, 2019
FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2019 file photo, Catalonia's former regional president. Carles Puigdemont, addresses a conference in Brussels. A political group that wants Catalonia to break away from Spain and become an independent country said on Sunday, March 10, 2019, that Puigdemont is running for a seat in the European Parliament even though the Spanish government considers him a fugitive. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

MADRID (AP) — The former president of Spain’s Catalonia region who fled the country after leading an attempt to secede in 2017 says he will return if he is elected to the European Parliament in May.

Spanish authorities consider Carles Puigdemont a fugitive, but he told Catalan radio Rac1 in an interview Tuesday that being a European lawmaker would entitle him to immunity from prosecution in the bloc.

Spanish officials made no immediate comment.

The 56-year-old politician fled to Brussels after the failed secession effort, which has landed other Catalan officials in court.

He has successfully fought his extradition to Spain from both Germany and Belgium.

JxCat — or Together for Catalonia, which includes the conservative separatist PDeCat party — says Puigdemont will be its main candidate in the May 26 ballot.