Catalonia ousted chief Puigdemont asks for 'risk-free' return to Spain

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The speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent yesterday proposed Mr Puigdemont as president of Catalonia, saying his candidacy to once again head Catalonia's regional government is "absolutely legitimate".

Llarena said that, with the trip to Denmark and the risk of arrest that that brought, Puigdemont as seeking to blame on Spain his absence from the Catalan parliament vote where a new regional leader needs to be elected.

Puigdemont has the backing of a slim majority of Catalan lawmakers to be reinstalled as the region's president, although his re-election faces legal challenges and a fierce political opposition.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont arrived in Copenhagen on Monday, defying a threat by Madrid to issue a warrant for his arrest if he leaves Belgium, where he has been in exile since a failed independence bid.

Charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, Puigdemont now faces arrest if he returns to Spain over his role in the independence drive.

The Spanish government has remained steadfast in its position that Puigdemont can not be re-elected as Catalonia president, as the region's constitution bars individuals from serving in an official capacity from overseas and would be physically present for the vote. The decision to reactivate the arrest warrant was postponed until the Catalan parliament is restored to normal activity, the court said.

Rajoy and his ministers have said they would appeal to the courts and maintain Madrid's direct rule of Catalonia if Puigdemont was elected while overseas.

Puigdemont has largely remained in Belgium since charges were brought against him, along with several other pro-independence Catalan parliamentarians, but visited Denmark in order to make a public address at the Danish Parliament and clear up confusion about his intentions, following controversy regarding the possibility that he might try to govern from overseas.

He has said he could be sworn in from Brussels, a plan Spain's central government opposes.

"The Spanish government will do everything possible for the law to be obeyed in Spain".

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated Saturday that governing Catalonia from overseas would be "illegal" and has warned Madrid would maintain its direct control over the region and will take the matter to court if Puigdemont sought remote rule.

Puigdemont was taking part in a debate at the University of Copenhagen on Monday.