Carles Puigdemont says return to Catalonia would be ’important step’

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said he hopes to return to Catalonia and believes it would be a good thing toward helping solve the crisis in the Spanish region.

Mr Puigdemont was re-elected to the Catalan parliament last month and is the candidate to form a new government. But he is on the run from Spanish justice and faces likely arrest if he returns.

Speaking in Copenhagen, Mr Puigdemont said on Tuesday his return would be good for his supporters and for Spanish democracy as "an important step to restore the democratic situation".

Mr Puigdemont’s candidacy has a slim parliamentary majority although his re-election faces legal challenges and fierce opposition if he tries to do it from abroad.

He said in English: "It is my goal (to be present). I’m working for that. I’m working for to be there."

Spain says it will step up surveillance to ensure Mr Puigdemont’s arrest.

The country’s interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said security experts are designing a plan to prevent Mr Puigdemont entering the country undetected.

Mr Puigdemont faces an arrest warrant in Spain amid an investigation into his government’s secession attempt in late October.

Mr Zoido told broadcaster Antena 3 Tuesday: "We are very worried, because we don’t know what a person with this behaviour might do." He said security forces face a difficult challenge given the large number of possible ways to enter Catalonia.

He said: "We are analysing all the possibilities. ... We are going to make sure that he can’t even enter in the trunk of a car."

- PA

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