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Catalonia's ousted president confirms return to Spain

Carles Puigdemont said he will return home if a fair judicial process is guaranteed.

Catalonia: Carles Puigdemont has not said when he will return.
Catalonia: Carles Puigdemont has not said when he will return. AP

Catalonia's ousted regional president will not seek political asylum in Belgium, he has told a news conference in Brussels.

Carles Puigdemont spoke after Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials, including the ex-regional leader. The charges carry maximum sentences of 30, 15 and six years in prison.

He said he travelled to Belgium so he could act "in freedom and safety" and because Brussels is the "capital of Europe".

Mr Puigdemont said the length of his stay in Belgium would depend on the circumstances in Spain, adding that he would return home "immediately" if a fair judicial process was guaranteed.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved Catalonia's parliament and ordered regional elections after separatist legislators passed a declaration of independence on Friday. On Tuesday, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the independence declaration.

Mr Puigdemont and other officials were fired by the central government after the independence declaration.

He said he and his team would "continue our work despite the limits imposed on us" and promised to respect the outcome of December's elections.

"I'm not here in order to demand political asylum," Mr Puigdemont said. "I'm here in order to act with freedom and safety."

He blamed Spanish authorities for clashes in Catalonia and urged people to "avoid violence", saying that dialogue was the priority.

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