Catalan's former president to risk arrest, travel to Denmark

Belgium Spain Catalonia

Belgium Spain Catalonia

Officials say that former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Brussels to avoid arrest in Spain almost three months ago, will leave Belgium and travel to Denmark next week to attend a university forum.

The spokesman and member of Junts per Catalunya Elsa Artadi has confirmed this Friday that former president of Generalitat Carles Puigdemont is planning to travel to Denmark on Monday 22 January to participate in a debate on political situation of Catalonia in University of Copenhagen.

Puigdemont is being investigated by Spain for possible rebellion, sedition, and embezzlement linked to a unilateral declaration of independence last fall in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia.

But the Spanish government said he could not rule from Brussels either.

The separatist politician still faces detention if he returns to Spain, but is free to travel elsewhere unless the judge re-activates the European and worldwide arrest warrants against him.

Lawyer Paul Bekaert, who has represented Puigdemont in earlier extradition hearings in Belgium, declined to discuss his assessment of the risk that the trip posed.

Puigdemont is seeking to be back in charge of affairs in Catalonia even if it is from self-imposed exile in Belgium.

The October secession attempt led Spanish central authorities to take direct control of Catalonia, disband its regional Cabinet, and call an early regional election. A new Catalan parliament is meeting following a botched secession attempt previous year and amid looming questions about the role that fugitive and jailed politicians will play in the chamber's separatist majority.