Spain works to stop former Catalan leader from returning home

Spain works to stop former Catalan leader from returning home”

Zoido said police and the paramilitary Guardia Civil were working "morning, noon and night" to prevent Puigdemont's return.

A small group of Danish lawmakers met Tuesday with Catalan ex-leader Carles Puigdemont at Denmark's Parliament, saying that listening to him is the best way to understand what is going on in Spain's Catalonia region. Mr Puigdemont, who was in Denmark yesterday to give a speech, potentially faces decades of jail in Spain for leading Catalonia's independence drive.

In Madrid, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said he was anxious that the 55-year old - who faces arrest the minute he steps back in Spain - could now try to discreetly return to the parliament in Barcelona for a vote on his candidacy.

Holger K. Nielsen, a former foreign minister and member of left-wing Socialist People's Party, said that although he doesn't agree with Puigdemont "it is important that we get an explanation from him about what he wants".

During his first foreign visit since leaving Spain to live in voluntary exile in Brussels on 30 October, Puigdemont told students at the University of Copenhagen the European Union showed "failures" in the face of crises both inside and outside its borders. A Spanish judge refused to ask Danish authorities to arrest Puigdemont.

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 said Spanish security forces were following Puigdemont to ensure he could not "cross the Spanish border in helicopter, by boat or in the trunk of a vehicle".

"One can start to understand each other by talking together, not by ignoring each other", he said.

"We're making sure this can not happen, at the borders and within the borders, everywhere", Zoido told Antena 3 TV.

He said: "We are analysing all the possibilities".

The Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, centre right, arrives to a meeting with Danish members of the Parliament, invited by the Faroese parliamentary member Magni Arge, left, at Christiansborg in Copenhagen, Denamrk, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

He said in English: "It is my goal (to be present)".

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