Facing possible criminal charges at home that could put him behind bars for decades, ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont took his bid for independence from Spain to the heart of Europe on Tuesday, attempting to portray his secessionist movement as persecuted underdogs who deserve international backing in their fight against Madrid.
A Spanish judge, meanwhile, ordered Puigdemont and the rest of his ousted Cabinet to appear for questioning later this week as part of a rebellion probe. Whether they appear or not, the judge is likely to decide as soon as Friday on whether to issue arrest warrants.
In a high-profile appearance before international media in the Belgian capital, Puigdemont kept up his defiant tone against the Spanish government's relentless efforts to thwart his secession ambitions. His unannounced trip underscored that his path to success is being blocked by the law in Spain, and he conceded ground to the Spanish government, agreeing to take part in an early regional election called for Dec. 21.