CARLES Puigdemont has denied he is in Belgium to claim political asylum.
But the deposed leader said he and seven Catalan cabinet ministers have travelled to Brussels indefinitely and refused to return to Spain until he had ‘guarantees’.
Speaking at a Brussels press conference, Puigdemont said he and his officials want to highlight ‘the maximum belligerence of the Spanish state’.
He also vowed to take part in the December 21 regional elections called by the Spanish government.
“I am not here to claim political asylum. Brussels is the capital of Europe. I am here in order to act with freedom and security,” he said.
“[We want to] denounce the polarization of the Spanish justice system and show the world the serious democratic deficit that exists in the Spanish state.”
Puigdemont went on to say he didn’t know how long he would say in Belgium.
He would return to Spain ‘immediately’ if given guarantees of a fair hearing.
Puigdemont added: “We are going to respect the results of the December 21 elections.
“I want to ask the Spanish government a question. Are you going to do the same? I want a clear commitment from the Spanish state.”
Puigdemont refused to say if he was prepared to go for jail for 30 years after Spain’s Attorney General called for him and his ministers to be charged with rebellion and sedition.
However, his minister Clara Ponsatí answered: “Would a fair trial have this as a reasonable outcome?”
Puigdemont accused Spain’s prosecutor of ‘a desire for revenge’.
Earlier, the Constitutional Court had cancelled Catalunya’s declaration of independence.
Puigdemont went on to deny causing ‘chaos’ by calling the October 1 referendum, which the Spanish government saw as illegal.
Around 900 people were injured following heavy-handed tactics from Spanish police on the day of the vote.
“The chaos started on October 1 with the violence from Spain,” he said.