Carles Puigdemont may not be able to stay in Europe if he wants to escape ARREST by Spain
Experts have claimed any EU government would effectively be forced to comply with a Spanish extradition request for Mr Puigdemont, giving him “very little chance” of refuge.
The president of breakaway Spanish region Catalonia is currently facing up to 30 years in prison for the crime of “rebellion” against the Spanish constitution.
A Belgian minister has suggested he could seek asylum there after he reportedly travelled to Brussels today, but this would not shield Mr Puigdemont or any other Catalan leaders targeted in the lawsuit against him, the Centre for European Reform said.
A spokesperson for the think tank told Express.co.uk: “If Belgium hypothetically were to try to offer asylum to Puigdemont, it would be nearly impossible to resist a Spanish extradition request.
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“The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) does not contain a ‘political exception’ that would allow countries to refuse extradition if the crime a suspect is wanted for is regarded as a political act.”
The spokesperson added: “For purposes of asylum, all EU member-states are considered to be ‘safe countries of origin’ whose citizens do not need protection.
“To refuse extradition under the EAW, Belgium would have to make the very difficult case that Puigdemont’s fundamental rights were likely to be violated by Spain.”
Guidance from Belgium’s Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) says asylum applicants from the EU would be considered, but suggested this would likely be unsuccessful.
Carles Puigdemont with members of the Catalan government after they declared independence
Mr Puigdemont faces 30 years in prison for his pro-independence actions
The Commissioner says political persecution would be a valid case for asylum, however it adds: “In the case of EU nationals, international protection is generally not necessary.
“The applicant for international protection must clearly demonstrate that in his personal situation he has a well-founded fear of persecution or faces a real risk of suffering serious harm.”
It comes as the EU turned on Catalonia, backing Spain in its refusal to recognise Catalan independence.
Although the region has declared itself an independent country, it will now need international recognition to be counted as a state in its own right.
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A pro unity demonstrator is stopped by Catalan Regional Police officer during a protest after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona
An EU legal expert believes there is no chance any state in the bloc would recognise Catalonia.
French legal expert Jean-Claude Piris, a former legal advisor to the EU Council, said: “What’s important is recognition by the international community.
“Maybe some countries like North Korea or Venezuela will recognise this independence, but no EU state will.”
France, Germany, the UK, the US and Mexico have all refused to acknowledge Catalan statehood.