Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont defies order to appear in Spanish court

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The court also said it had started processing rebellion and sedition charges against Puigdemont and the other Catalan leaders.

His comments came as Spain's constitutional court suspended the declaration of independence made by the Catalan parliament on Friday.

Puigdemont travelled to Belgium at the weekend with other members of the dismissed Catalan administration and hired a lawyer.

The crimes can be punished with decades in prison under Spanish law.

European officials say Catalonia's ousted regional president will give a news conference in Brussels as speculation mounts as to whether he will request political asylum in Belgium.

But he has said he would not seek asylum and would return to Spain "immediately" if guaranteed a fair judicial process. From Brussels, he accused the Spanish government of seeking "revenge" rather than "justice" regarding the now two-month-old heightened push for Catalan independence.

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On Monday, Spain's state prosecutor filed charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against Puigdemont for defying the central government by holding an referendum on secession on October 1 and proclaiming independence.

A judge will then decide whether those called to testify should go to jail pending an investigation that could take several years and potentially lead to a trial.

Prosecutors have already asked the courts to order the Catalan secessionist leaders to deposit at least 6.2 million euros to cover all potential liabilities brought by the case.

After Catalonia declared independence Friday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalan Parliament, fired all leaders and called for new regional elections, set to take place December 21.

Mr Puigdemont said he and his colleagues welcomed the challenge of an election "with all our strength".

Catalan parties have until November 5 to name general representative delegates, and until November 7 to name provincial delegates, according to the Electoral Council.

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