The former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, said that he accepts the new regional elections planned for December, and understands the charges against him after Spain’s attorney general filed charges of rebellion, sedition and the misuse of public funds.
Spain's Constitutional Court officially has suspended Catalonia's declaration of independence and the police have been looking for evidence of sedition in government buildings.
Meanwhile, Puigdemont is in Brussels with five members of his erstwhile cabinet, but not to seek asylum, yet.
The former Catalan president revealed his reasoning for driving to Marseilles and taking a flight to the Belgian capital on Monday, “We came to avoid a confrontation that may possibly have occurred if we stayed in Barcelona.”
Certainly, confrontation is on the cards with the Spanish police and Guardia Civil on full alert under an increasingly hard-line Mariano Rajoy.
Puigdemont told a packed news conference that he had come to Brussels to “avoid threats” and did not specify when he would return to Spain as this “depends on guarantees from the Spanish government.”
“I am here in order to act with freedom and security,” said the leader, well aware of the 30-year maximum sentence for rebellion that applies in Spain.
Puigdemont added: “We came to avoid a confrontation that may possibly have occurred if we stayed in Barcelona.”
Charles Michel, the Belgian PM said that Puigdemont "will be treated like any other European citizen" after he said he planned to stay in Brussels, "Mr Puigdemont has the same rights and responsibilities as any European citizen, no more, no less," with Michel at pains to stress that his government had not invited the Catalan leader to visit nor had it directly offered asylum.
On Monday, Theo Francken, Belgium’s secretary of state for asylum and migration, said: “Catalans who feel politically threatened can apply for asylum in Belgium. This includes the minister-president Puigdemont. It’s completely legal.”