In a rambling press conference in four languages that started half-an-hour late, the former First Minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont told reporters that he was the legitimate president of Catalonia and that he was not in the Belgian capital as an asylum seeker.

Asked repeatedly whether he would return to Spain to face criminal charges with a maximum 30-year sentence, Mr. Puigdemont said he would return once he had "legal guarantees", and that was the reason for the group's decision to travel to Brussels.

El País confirmed there were seven other former regional ministers in Brussels with Mr. Puigdemont, making eight out of the 14 who made up his regional cabinet until last Friday.

He passed the microphone over to two of them—Clara Ponsatí and Joaquim Forn, who also gave complex answers.

Mr. Forn said Spain wished to try them with harsh charges "like terrorists".

Mr. Puigdemont said the group's decision had been motivated by the desire to "avoid violence" after declaring independence from Spain on Friday, and that they were ready to accept a "slower" path towards consolidating the new republic than would otherwise have been the case.

He framed the regional elections called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy using Article 155 powers as "a democratic challenge", and asked if Spain would accept the results if pro-independence parties won.

He added that he wanted to "keep Catalan institutions alive" and "prevent Article 155", and that the problem had started on October 1 with "violence from the Spanish side".

Asked again how long he would stay in Belgium, Mr. Puigdemont said "it depends" on circumstances.

Published: 2:48 pm, Oct 31 2017 (link)

Remaining Members Of "Catalan Government" Meet In Catalan Parliament

Five former regional ministers of the dismissed Catalan government met at the Catalan Parliament as "the Catalan government", El Món reported on Tuesday. Oriol Junqueras, Raul Romeva, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Carles Mundó were photographed at a table in a meeting room.

"We consider ourselves to be the legitimate representatives of the government of Catalonia", Mr. Rull, the former regional territory minister, told El Món.

The Speaker's office confirmed to The Spain Report that a meeting had taken place and explained that the five men might have entered parliament either as former MPs or on the invite of a parliamentary group, likely Junts Pel Sí ("Together For Yes") in this case.

The Speaker's office declined to comment on the legal implications of five dismissed former members of the Catalan government meeting as if they were still the Catalan government inside the Catalan Parliament building.