Catalan Leader Says not Afraid of Arrest Over Independence
The leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, said he was not afraid of being arrested for organizing a banned referendum on the region’s independence from Spain, which went ahead on Sunday despite Madrid using force to try to stop people voting, Reuters reported.
Spanish riot police used truncheons and rubber bullets on voters, drawing worldwide criticism and tipping Spain into its biggest constitutional crisis in decades.
Puigdemont’s government is to ask the regional parliament on Monday to declare independence, after his officials released preliminary referendum results showing 90 percent support in favor of breaking away.
Turnout was only about 43 percent as Catalans who favor remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the ballot.
“Personally, I am not afraid of that,” Puigdemont said in an interview in the German daily Bild, published on Thursday, when asked about his possible arrest. “And I‘m not surprised anymore about what the Spanish government is doing. My arrest is also possible, which would be a barbaric step.”
Neither the Spanish government nor the judiciary has threatened to arrest Puigdemont, though Madrid accuses him of breaking the law by ignoring a Constitutional Court ruling forbidding the referendum from going ahead.
Puigdemont has said the referendum proved the will of the people was to leave Spain and has vowed to continue with secession, despite Madrid’s insistence it won’t happen.