Ex-Catalan leader makes trip after Spain judge nixes arrest

Ex-Catalan leader makes trip after Spain judge nixes arrest

Carles Puigdemont told a crowded auditorium at the University of Copenhagen on Monday that "if Catalans can't change their laws and leaders, that means there is no democracy in Catalonia".

THE fugitive ex-president of Spain's Catalonia region left his self-exile in Belgium and visited Denmark yesterday. "It's time to end their oppression and find a political solution for Catalonia".

Spain is investigating Puigdemont for possible rebellion, sedition and embezzlement linked to a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia's parliament on October 27.

Judge Pablo Llarena said the request was "reasonable" but refused to grant it, arguing it was important to wait until constitutional order had been restored in Catalonia.

In his address at the University of Copenhagen, he said that the European Union showed "failures" in the face of crises both inside and outside its borders.

Mr Torrent said Mr Puigdemont's candidacy to lead was "absolutely legitimate" despite the charges against him.

More news: Trump signs tax bill into law, heads to Florida for Christmas

The Catalan leader's trip to Copenhagen is his first since he fled to Belgium.

As the sole candidate from Catalonia's separatist grouping, Puigdemont announced this week that he could govern the region from Brussels if he is re-elected president.

While at first glance a blow to Madrid's efforts to have Puigdemont arrested, the court's decision could also make it more hard for the former Catalan leader to be allowed to vote.

The results of the December vote were similar to those of a 2015 election that put separatists in power. Together the parties secured 70 out of the 135 seats.

Puigdemont has been living in Belgium since Spain's prime minister removed him from office and prosecutors opened a sedition investigation over the Catalan government's push for independence.

It sent national police to prevent the referendum from taking place, which ended in violence against voters that rights groups called an "excessive use of force". Torrent also said he wants to discuss the situation with Spain's President Mariano Rajoy, reports El Confidencial.

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