Puigdemont ready to return to Catalonia and face arrest, lawyer says

Gonzalo Boye: "They won't be able to stop him from being president" 

Junts MEP Carles Puigdemont before a press conference in Brussels on September 5, 2023
Junts MEP Carles Puigdemont before a press conference in Brussels on September 5, 2023 / Nazaret Romero
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 15, 2024 11:15 AM

March 15, 2024 02:37 PM

Former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, is ready to return to Catalonia and face arrest, according to his lawyer. 

Puigdemont has been living in exile in Belgium since the 2017 independence push and is currently being investigated for terrorism. 

Under the terms of the amnesty agreed by the Spanish Congress on Thursday, Puigdemont would be able to return freely, but it is unclear whether it will become law in time for the former president to stand in the upcoming Catalan elections. 

"They won't be able to prevent him from being president if he wants to be," Puigdemont's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, told Rac 1 on Friday. 

There is a "justified fear" among other parties, Boye said, that Puigdemont will run for Junts in the May 12 election, top the poll, and be elected president by the Catalan Parliament. 

Boye accused other parties of "coordinating" the election date to prevent Puigdemont from standing, which Catalan President Pere Aragonès has denied. 

Boye said that Puigdemont "will face the consequences of his actions." Asked when he might return to Catalonia, his lawyer said it was "reasonable" to think that it would be at the end of May or the beginning of June. 

Aragonès: 'I didn't choose the date' 

Aragonès has denied that he coordinated with the Socialists on calling a snap election on May 12, as Junts have claimed. 

"I called elections on the first Sunday that was possible," the current president and Esquerra Republicana (ERC) candidate told Spanish radio station RNE on Friday. 

"I didn't choose the date. It was decided by those who vetoed the highest budget in history," Aragonès said. 

The ERC government reached a 2024 budget deal with the Socialists, but Aragonès called a snap election after failing to get support for the spending plan from either pro-independence Junts or left-wing Catalunya en Comú. 

Socialists to ratify Illa as candidate 

The Catalan Socialists have amended the schedule for their party conference this weekend to announce that Salvador Illa will stand as their presidential candidate in the May 12 election. 

The former Spanish health minister's ratification as candidate will be a symbolic formality as he already has the backing of party members.