Puigdemont: Europe can’t have an entire government in jail or exiled
The deposed Catalan president said Spain's imprisonment of Catalan government members was a violation of human rights
Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont, deposed by the Spanish government, warned the European Union that “it cannot have an entire government in prison or in exile”. In an interview with Catalan public radio, broadcast on Tuesday from Brussels, where Puigdemont and four of his ministers landed last week, he also claimed that the Union “cannot have political prisoners or a legitimate parliament dissolved via a Spanish government decree”.
‘There’s a eurocratic elite that only obeys the states,’ says Puigdemont
Indeed, he criticized the EU for its “absolute indifference” to the political situation in Catalonia. “Human rights are being violated with the jailing of ministers, we have to demand maximum attention with what is an anomaly in Europe,” added Puigdemont also pointing to Brussels.
He denounced that there is a “eurocratic elite that only obeys the states, that has betrayed the values and has corrupted the defense of the foundational values of Europe”. For him, this elite has shown a “lack of connection with what people are interested in.”
‘Human rights are being violated’
While insisting that Spain is “violating human rights” with the imprisonments of some ministers, he admitted that he might “end up in a Spanish prison” too. Yet, he said their case will make it to international courts. “We have the right to go there and we will go there, and it will not be the first time that Spain is embarrassed,” he added.
Eight ministers who stayed in Catalonia were preemptively sent to jail on Thursday last week pending charges of rebellion, sedition, and misappropriation of public funds, among others. Puigdemont is facing the same charges.
"Dignity is today behind bars and also in Belgium"
Carles Puigdemont · Catalan president
During the interview, Puigdemont was also asked about the possibility to realize the Catalan republic in the future. While he did not deny it, he said they have never foreseen “a scenario in which the republic goes ahead amid police or economic violence.” Because of that, he suggested taking peaceful action. “We have the right to democratically rise up against this very serious threat hanging over all of us.” “Dignity is today behind bars and also in Belgium,” he said.
Puigdemont to appear in court on November 17
Puigdemont and his ministers were speaking for the first time since a Belgian judge released them on Sunday after deciding that it was not necessary that they remain in custody while awaiting a final decision on their extradition. They are to appear in court on November 17.
He also emphasized his desire to cooperate with the Belgian justice system and underlined that the reason why he and his ministers came to Brussels was that they did not trust the Spanish justice system to offer them a fair trial. “We have gone voluntarily to the Belgian justice system, we are not running from anything.”
December 21 election
Puigdemont also rmentioned the snap election called by Spanish president Mariano Rajoy on December 21 after taking over the Catalan government and dissolving the Parliament.
“My priority is that there be a ‘list for a country’ that includes everyone who understands this is about defending democracy and freedom,” he said referring to a potential unity candidacy for the December 21 election. “We have no alternative but to take part together,” Puigdemont said. For him, this would be the right move ahead of the election because “there are people jailed, civil organizations reprised, school teachers who have to appear in court because they have held democratic debates in classrooms, and investigated mayors across the whole political spectrum.”
The two main pro-independence parties, Puigdemont’s PDeCAT and jailed vice president Junqueras’ ERC, already took part in the last election together under the coalition Together for Yes (JxSí). They won the election and together with far-left CUP reached an absolute majority for pro-independence forces for the first time. ERC has said that they will only back a unity candidacy if CUP and other left-wing groups also join.