Granting Puigdemont asylum ‘not unrealistic’, Belgian minister says

Theo Francken questions that the Catalan president “would get a fair trial” in Spain

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont during his speech (by Guillem Roset)
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont during his speech (by Guillem Roset) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 29, 2017 11:53 AM

Carles Puigdemont might be able to get political asylum in Belgium if he asks for it. This is what the Belgian migration minister, Theo Francken, told Flemish TV channel VTM on Saturday. “It is not unrealistic if you look at the situation” that the Catalan president could be granted asylum, he said. According to Francken, if that were the case, it would be difficult for Spain to extradite him. He does not rule out this scenario because the Spanish attorney general is “already talking about a prison sentence”.

Indeed, José Manuel Maza said few days ago that should independence be declared, he would file a lawsuit against Carles Puigdemont for rebellion, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. “The question is to what extent he would get a fair trial,” Francken added.

The migration minister made these remarks after the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, avoided backing Spain after the Catalan independence declaration. He urged a “peaceful solution” and on Twitter said that a political crisis “can only be resolved with dialogue.” According to Michel, the solution should respect "national and international order". He had criticized the violence of Spanish police during the independence referendum on October 1, when he tweeted: “We condemn all forms of violence and restate our call for dialogue."