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Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont has warned acting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, via a video message, that he only has two ways to make him return to Spain and that both are "illegal, contrary to EU law and democracy". His comments follow a promise made by Sánchez in yesterday's televised debate, the only debate between the main national candidates ahead of Sunday's repeat general election, that he would "bring Puigdemont to Spain to be held accountable by the courts."

The first path would be taking, through the cabinet, "decisions which only the judiciary can take in a consolidated democracy", which they cannot do and respect the Constitution. "The other is to do the same thing that a minister and other leaders of PSOE did in the past, and which you likely justify, kidnapping people," he said. That's a reference to the GAL, illegal groups established during Felipe González's PSOE government to fight a "dirty war" against ETA. At that suggestion, the president directly asks Sánchez: "Do you want to kidnap me, Mr Pedro Sánchez?"

The president goes further still and asks Sánchez if he wants to imitate minister José Barrionuevo, who was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the GAL scandal and the kidnapping of a person within French territory. "Do you need to exhibit my head as a barbaric trophy to scrape together a few votes you still don't have," he asked.

He warned Sánchez that, if he does that, he'll likely end up like Barrionuevo and his associates. He suggests, however, that that possibly doesn't worry Sánchez much because "when a criminal is a PSOE minister, it doesn't matter if they sentence them to ten years in prison, they only spend three months there".

Puigdemont jokingly thanks Sánchez for his frankness, which he says helps strengthen one of the arguments he's been making to Europe, namely that there is no separation of powers in Spain and that, as such, he wouldn't be guaranteed a fair trial, nor would his fellow ministers be. "Even less so at the time when my head becomes an electoral tactic," he added.


The president warns the acting prime minister that he should worry about Spain's bad image when it comes to the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers and that he shouldn't "contribute to undermining this image further still". In the video, he notes the warning of the Council of Europe's Greco report on judicial independence and a European survey in July in which Spain was fifth from the bottom in terms of the need to improve the fundamental principles of the rule of law and fourth in terms of separation of powers and equality before the law.

"You're irresponsible"


He criticises Sánchez for, instead of giving the alarm about this situation, preferring to "stir the situation in Catalonia because you believe it gives you votes." "Let me say it clearly, you are irresponsible. And someone who is irresponsible will never be able to count on our support. Never. Because what's needed is judgment, responsibility and dialogue and you're completely the opposite. You want to remain in the Moncloa [government palace] at any price. Even at the risk of sending Spain to the precipice," he said.

Puigdemont concludes warning Sánchez that he won't succeed. "I will continue fighting whilst I have freedom to do so. But I'm not alone. There's a few of us in exile", he said, adding there is a second part of the message to come from the Catalan people this Sunday at the ballot box.