Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium on Monday amid Spain’s takeover of his region, says he intends to ignore a court order by Spain to appear in court on charges of sedition and rebellion against the Spanish crown.
Puigdemont signed Catalonia’s declaration of independence, which was finalized Friday in a 70-10 vote by parliament. Spain took over the region on Monday, however, and intends to hold elections to install a new regional government.
The charges against Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders appear intended to preclude them from running for reelection in the new elections. Puigdemont has said he is open to testifying in Spain’s trial from within Belgium.
Puigdemont and his cabinet have yet to seek asylum within Belgium, but rather are acting as a government-in-exile. Puigdemont has expressed support for the fresh elections, and there is hope that strong support for secession may bolster the pro-independence ruling coalition.