Meritxell Serret has put an end to her stay of three years in Belgium, where she went into exile just after Catalonia’s independence push in 2017. Upon arrival, she appeared before Spain’s Supreme Court, where she faces a criminal case and the magistrates decided to release her and summon her for a hearing on 8 April.

“What I want to do now is go through 406km to reach home and hug my family,” she said after leaving the court. “I am here because I maintain my commitment, I want to exercise as MP” she said, adding that she wants to be part of an anti-repression bloc within the independence camp and move forward towards a democratic solution to the Catalonia – Spain conflict.

In the afternoon, she was welcomed in her hometown:

The Agriculture minister during the 2017 referendum announced on Monday that she was resigning from her post as Catalan delegate in the EU in order to take up her role as an MP with the pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana. She was picked as representative after the February 14 election, after having been included in Esquerra’s list of candidates at the eleventh hour.

Member of Catalan Parliament

Serret said in a statement made public by Esquerra on Thursday morning that she wants to “maintain the fight against the repression the independence camp is suffering and in favor of self-determination, doing politics from Catalonia and trying to pave the way to the return of the rest of political exiles.”

Yet, Serret had been in exile in Brussels ever since the Catalan parliament declared independence in October 2017. Unlike other exiled leaders such as Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí, Serret was not included in the European arrest warrants on Catalan leaders issued by Spain in the wake of the Catalan referendum trial verdict in October 2019, so she was not facing any extradition request.

She faced two in the past, one of which withdrawn by Spain’s Supreme Court in December 2017 to avoid rejection by Belgium’s courts, and the second dismissed by Belgium for “formal errors.” Yet, she is indicted for the referendum case over the charges of disobedience and also misuse of public funds, something that might carry a prison sentence.

Reactions

Shortly after the news were made public, several reactions unfolded, including that of the former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, also in exile. “I hope the re-union with her beloved ones compensates all the injustice suffered,” he tweeted, wishing her all the best.

Oriol Junqueras, the president of Serret’s party, Esquerra, now in prison, tweeted: “I am very looking forward to hugging you, dear Meritxell Serret! We will put an end to the repression against the independence camp!”

Unionist Ciudadanos’ Nacho Martín Blanco expressed that it is “normal” that she has returned. “What is not normal is that she had not appeared [before the Supreme Court] before, and what continues as abnormal is that Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí do not appear before justice.”

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