Spain on Alert to Stop Puigdemont Sneaking Back Into Barcelona

(Bloomberg) -- If Carles Puigdemont believes he can smuggle himself back into Barcelona without getting caught by Spanish police, he should think again, Interior Minister Jose Ignacio Zoido said.

The ousted Catalan president may be tempted to cross into Spain by helicopter, light aircraft or boat so that the regional parliament can reappoint him, Zoido told broadcaster Antena 3 in an interview. The police have specialist teams to monitor his movements and will catch him if he tries, Zoido said.

Spain on Alert to Stop Puigdemont Sneaking Back Into Barcelona

“We are designing an operation so that this won’t happen,” he said. “We’re going to see to it that he cannot enter -- even in the trunk of a car.”

The Spanish media is abuzz with speculation that Puigdemont might attempt a dramatic return for an investiture vote in the Catalan parliament this month. He fled to Brussels in October after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired him for engineering a declaration of independence from Spain and he faces arrest if he attempts to return.

Separatist parties led by Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya group won a slim majority in the regional elections called by Rajoy last month. His supporters continue to explore ways for him to return to office even though Rajoy insists the arrest warrant outstanding in Spain means that can’t happen.

For now, Puigdemont remains at liberty to travel around Europe -- he is presently in Copenhagen to meet politicians and students -- but not back to Spain unless he’s prepared to do some jail time. “Justice, without a doubt, will come down on Puigdemont,” Zoido said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.