Spain’s Interior Minister Jose Ignacio Zoido has a warning for Carles Puigdemont: “don’t try to sneak back into Barcelona, you will be caught.”
The ousted former Catalan leader and infamous separatist, Carles Puigdemont who remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels and who was again picked by the Catalan parliament to be its president, may be tempted to cross into Spain “by helicopter, light aircraft or boat” so that the regional parliament can reappoint him officially, Zoido told broadcaster Antena 3 in an interview. The police have deployed specialist teams to monitor his movements and will catch him if he tries.
“Justice will be done with Carles Puigdemont”, Zoido told Antena 3 on Tuesday morning, adding that the former First Minister had “fled” from the courts. “He has gone to countries where they’re not paying much attention to him but where he can make a lot of noise.”
As a reminder, “making a lot of noise” in Europe, especially when it goes against the establishment, is frowned upon.
Why the bizarre statement? Because, as Bloomberg notes, the Spanish media is abuzz with speculation that “Puigdemont might attempt a dramatic return for an investiture vote in the Catalan parliament this month. He fled to Brussels in October after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired him for engineering a declaration of independence from Spain and he faces arrest if he attempts to return.”
Asked about the possibility that Puigdemont might try to sneak back across the border to attempt another embarrassing media coup for the Spanish government, Zoido replied that Spanish security forces were vigilant and prepared, with Civil Guard and National Police experts working on the problem.
“Although there are a lot of country paths and you can get in by boat, in helicopter, or in a light airplane, we are working towards that not happening“, he said quoted by The Spain Report: “so that Puigdemont can’t even get back in in the boot of a car“.
Zoido also said it was “outrageous” that Mr. Puigdemont might be reappointed via Skype.
The Catalan Parliament, with new Speaker Roger Torrent in charge, is due to make a decision today on whether or not to accept proxy votes from those MPs in self-imposed exile in Brussels at the upcoming confidence debate to choose a new First Minister.
On Monday, Mr. Torrent put forward Mr. Puigdemont as the only candidate for the job.
As a reminder, in another surprise to Spain’s ruling party, separatist parties led by Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya group won a slim majority in the regional elections called by Rajoy last month, a vote which was seen as a symbolic second referendum on independence.
A Supreme Court judge rejected a petition from the Public Prosecutor’s Office to reissue a European Arrest Warrant against Puigdemont, after he traveled from Belgium to Copenhagen to take part in a debate. As a result, for now Puigdemont remains at liberty to travel around Europe but not back to Spain unless he’s prepared to do some jail time. “Justice, without a doubt, will come down on Puigdemont,” Zoido said.