Catalan cabinet summoned to appear at Spanish high court

Ousted leader Carles Puigdemont and other cabinet members have travelled to Belgium

Catalan cabinet summoned to appear at Spanish high court

Sacked Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont, centre, looks o during a press conference in Brussels | Image: Olivier Matthys/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 19.20

Spain has summoned the entire disputed Catalan cabinet, including their leader, to appear in court on Thursday.

A high court judge has said the cabinet, including President Carles Puigdemont, must be questioned as part of an investigation into rebellion.

Spain's attorney general has called for charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds to be brought against Mr Puigdemont and 13 other separatist leaders.

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

Catalonia's ousted president and other members of the cabinet have travelled to Belgium for "freedom and safety" after he was sacked.

Mr Puigdemont says he is not in the country to seek political asylum.

He also says he will accept and respect regional elections scheduled for December 21st.

Leaders in Belgium 

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Mr Puigdemont said: "I am not here to seek political asylum.

"This is not a Belgian question - we are here in Brussels, the capital of Europe, this is not a matter of the question of Belgian politics."

He added: "The elections on December 21st are a challenge that we are going to accept, and respect the results".

"We want to avoid violence, because this dialogue will always be our priority and the priority of most Catalans.

"So all the decisions that we've been making since Friday have always been based on these values of peace, plurality, neutrality."

Sacked Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont, centre, speaks during a press conference in Brussels | Image: Olivier Matthys/AP/Press Association Images

"We cannot build a republic from violence. If the Spanish state wants to use violence, this will be their decision.

"But we cannot drag things into a scene where everything is based on oppression".

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Mr Puigdemont would be "treated like any other European citizen".

The ousted government's presence could cause headaches for Mr Michel, who governs in coalition with Flemish separatists sympathetic to the Catalan cause.

Separately on Tuesday, Spain's civil guard police force searched the headquarters of Catalonia's regional police.

Constitutional Court

Earlier, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended what it calls the "unilateral deceleration of independence" by the now deposed Catalonian government.

This was done in accordance with article 161.2 of the Spanish Constitution, which found that the declaration passed on Friday was "null and non-effective in any jurisdiction".

On Monday, Mr Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders were accused of committing offences which carry sentences of up to 30, 15 and six years in prison respectively.

Hours later, Mr Puigdemont and five former members of his cabinet reportedly drove to Marseille, where they boarded a flight to the Belgian capital.

The development sparked rumours they would seek political asylum in Brussels - a prospect that Belgian Migration Minister Theo Francken had described as "not unrealistic" and "100% legal."

Reporting by Jack Quann & IRN