Brussels / Montreal 30 OCT 2019 – 11:52 GMT
Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont has been denied entry into Canada for the second time.
His lawyer, Stephane Handfield, said an immigration official has denied the separatist leader’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), something that European visitors need to enter Canadian territory. The lawyer said he would contest the decision in a federal court.
Handfield said the refusal was tied to the “pending accusations” in Spain, where Puigdemont is wanted on allegations of sedition and misuse of public funds in the illegal secession attempt of 2017.
Nine other separatist leaders, several of whom served in Puigdemont’s government, were recently found guilty of sedition and sentenced to prison in a Supreme Court decision that triggered week-long protests and rioting in Barcelona and other Catalan cities.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium following a unilateral independence declaration passed by the Catalan parliament in October 2017, and he is now awaiting a decision by the Belgian justice system whether to extradite him to Spain on a European arrest warrant issued by Spanish authorities. The court announced on Tuesday that it will consider the case on December 16.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he didn’t understand the federal government’s decision. “I am still perplexed,” Legault said in Quebec City, according to the Canadian daily La Presse. “I would like the Canadian government to explain why it refuses to give this visa.”
The separatist leader had been invited to give a talk at a pro-independence association from Quebec, the Société Saint Jean Baptiste. An earlier invitation by this same group in the spring also fell through when Puigdemont’s eTA application was rejected.
English version by Susana Urra.