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Spain to retaliate against Brussels delegation after deposed minister’s visit

Lluís Puig’s participation in Catalan delegation event sparks controversy

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19 April 2018 11:31 AM

by

ACN | Brussels

Spain is to take “immediate” measures against the Catalan delegation in Brussels after a minister dismissed for his role in the independence bid participated in an cultural event there on Wednesday.

The deposed Catalan culture minister Lluís Puig is deemed a “fugitive,” according to sources from Spain’s foreign affairs ministry. Puig is facing a European Arrest Warrant along with two ministers who are also seeking refuge from the Spanish judiciary in Brussels. He is being prosecuted for an alleged crime disobedience and misuse of public funds. The Belgian judge dealing with his case allowed him and to other ministers to walk free while he considers the Spanish extradition request. 

Following a declaration of independence last October, the Spanish government triggered Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend Catalonia’s self-rule and dismiss president Carles Puigdemont and all his ministers. Puig is the first member of the cabinet to attend an event at the delegation since then.

  • “As a free citizen before the European justice system it’s a pleasure for me to be here”

    Lluís Puig · Deposed Catalan minister

“As a free citizen before the European justice system it’s a pleasure for me to be here,” said Puig at the ceremony. The delegation stressed that the event was public, and said that Puig was not among the invitees. 

He was invited to speak by the Catalan community association in Brussels, which also organized the event. 
 
The event in question was to pay tribute to Manuel de Pedrolo on the 100th anniversary of his birth. As Minister of Culture, and months before being sacked by Spain, Puig signed the decrees that led to the organization of the 'Pedrolo year'. This week, preceding St Jordi, one of Catalonia's main cultural days, Brussels is hosting the 'Catalan Week' with several events planned. 

Madrid used Article 155 to suspend the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) and all Catalan delegations abroad, except the one in Brussels. However, the Catalan government representative to the European Union, Amadeu Altafaj, was dismissed.

In January, the Spanish government did not allow the Catalan parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, to hold a meeting in the delegation with the members of the dismissed Catalan cabinet presently residing in Brussels, who were recently re-elected as MPs. To avoid the meeting taking place, Spain shut down the delegation and sent all its employees home.

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  • Deposed Catalan culture minister Lluís Puig (center) (by Blanca Blay)

  • Deposed Catalan culture minister Lluís Puig (center) (by Blanca Blay)