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Catalan leader has right to seek asylum in Belgium, official says

October 30, 8:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Europa Press said earlier that the prosecutor’s office had prepared a lawsuit against Puigdemont is case he declared Catalonia’s secession from Spain

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Carles Puigdemont

Carles Puigdemont

© AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

MOSCOW, October 29. /TASS/. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont who has been relieved of his duties by Spain’s central authorities can seek political asylum in Belgium, Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken told VTM broadcaster on Sunday.

He said that the Belgian law gives the Catalans the right to seek asylum in Belgium.

According to Francken, such precedents have already taken place as political refugees from Spain’s Basque Country asked for asylum in Belgium. In his words, it is not ruled out that Puigdemont may also seek asylum in Belgium as a fair trial in Spain is highly doubtful.

Europa Press said earlier that the prosecutor’s office had prepared a lawsuit against Puigdemont is case he declared Catalonia’s secession from Spain. He might be accused of mutiny and face a prison term of up to 30 years.

On Friday, Catalonia’s parliament voted for a resolution proclaiming independence from Spain. Following this step, Spain’s Senate (upper parliament house) approved Madrid’s request to activate Article 155 of the constitution which has never been used before as it provides for limiting Catalonia’s autonomy.

Shortly after, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it had been decided to relieve Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his government of their duties. Apart from that, he dissolved the Catalan parliament and appointed early elections on December 21.

On October 1, Catalonia held a referendum on seceding from Spain. As many as 2.28 million out of 5.31 million Catalan eligible voters took part in the plebiscite. A total of 90.18% of the voters, or more than two million people, said "yes" to Catalonia’s independence. Madrid said the referendum was illegal and refused to recognize its results.

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