The deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has confirmed he will remain in Brussels ahead of a scheduled court appearance in Madrid over charges related to Catalan independence.
Puigdemont and 13 of his dismissed ministers have been given three days to pay 6.2 million euros ($7.2 million) in bail, or else have their personal assets seized. They must appear at the High Court in Madrid on Thursday.
Puigdemont and some of his former ministers turned up in Brussels on Monday after Spain’s state prosecutor announced he would seek charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against the depose leader and key members of his renegade administration.
The charge of rebellion carries a maximum jail term of 30 years.
In a statement released Wednesday, Puigdemont described the subpoenas as “without legal basis” and the trial as “political.”
“We assume the prison sentences that await us as a denunciation of the situation that democracy is suffering in Spain and as a cry for the freedom of our people,” read the statement, which likened the penalties as equivalent to those more commonly associated with “crimes such as murder or terrorism” and were disproportionate to their actions.
The statement went on to dismiss reports that he was in Brussels to evade justice and instead argued he was there as a means of claiming justice. The statement also confirmed that while Puigdemont and some of his ministers will remain in the Belgian city, an unspecified number would appear in court in Madrid on Thursday.
Some of Puigdemont’s ministers were seen returning to Barcelona on Wednesday, but is unclear yet whether they will show up to court.
Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis in decade after Puigdemont’s administration held an independence referendum on October 1. The crisis came to a head last week on Friday, when the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence. Madrid responded by suspending the region’s autonomy, sacking the government and imposing direct rule.