Puigdemont’s only hope is to play the victim
At the exact moment he was due in court in Madrid, ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was sipping a coffee at a cafe near the European Parliament in Brussels.
Reports suggest a European warrant is now being issued for his arrest.
So what happens next?
We could be at the beginning of a long legal wrangle.
A caveat first: the Catalan crisis has taken numerous unexpected turns since the 1 October referendum. It's sensible to expect the unexpected. But from conversations with lawyers, here are a few things to consider.
Mr Puigdemont has said he is not in Belgium to claim asylum. But could he, if he changes his mind?
The EU treaties of Amsterdam and Lisbon say that nationals from EU countries cannot claim asylum in other EU countries because all EU countries should be considered safe countries of origin.
EU Protocol 24 on Asylum says: "Given the level of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms by the Member States of the European Union, Member States shall be regarded as constituting safe countries of origin in respect of each other for all legal and practical purposes in relation to asylum matters."
Guess who introduced the law? Spain. It's called the "Spanish Protocol" and Madrid argued successfully for it, to protect against precisely this scenario.
In 1997, when the text was inserted into the treaty, Spain had a headache with Basque separatists spending too much time talking to asylum lawyers in Belgium.
Case closed then – Mr Puigdemont can't pursue the asylum route; he's off to Spain…
Belgium is the only EU country which claims it is legally possible to at least examine an asylum claim by a national of another EU country.
Mr Puigdemont would need to show the Belgian authorities that he is at risk of persecution in Spain.
Given that Spain is a democratic state – an EU member with an independent judiciary and all the rest of it – his lawyers would have a very hard time trying to demonstrate the persecution argument.
On top of that, Belgian law gives Mr Puigdemont's lawyers just five days to make their case.
The legal presumption against which his lawyers would have to argue their point, as written into the treaties, is that the asylum claim is "manifestly unfounded".
So the asylum route would probably fail.
:: Other more likely scenarios?
There is a much more likely scenario than the asylum route – which could buy Mr Puigdemont many months in Belgium.
His lawyer could object to the issuing of the European Arrest Warrant, based – probably – on two grounds.
First, it could be argued that Mr Puigdemont's human rights are infringed because, it would be claimed, he won't face a fair trial in Spain.
Second, it could be argued that one of the crimes he is accused of – rebellion – doesn't have equivalence in Belgium.
Here's the complicated but important background to this legal route: the European Arrest Warrant is based on a framework drawn up in December 2003.
Every EU country signed up to it and pledged to uphold the automatic execution of warrants issued for suspects.
But there are loopholes and the issue of "double criminality" is one.
If the accused's crime doesn't have an equivalent in the country where he or she is being sought from, lawyers can use that to argue the warrant should not be executed.
If Mr Puigdemont's lawyer takes either of these arguments to a Belgian court, it could take months to come to a judgment.
:: Political pressure could force Belgium to hand him over?
There will be significant political pressure weighing on the Belgian government. It is not remotely in their interests to be seen to be supportive of Mr Puigdemont.
Even the Flemish nationalist elements of Belgium's federal government have gone very quiet after initially appearing to hold out olive branches for Mr Puigdemont.
But, politics and justice are separate in Belgium just as they are across the EU and it will be very hard for Belgian politicians to interfere if legal proceedings get under way in Brussels.
He's not a terrorist, he is not a danger to the public and so his movement cannot be hindered during any legal argument over the validity of the arrest warrant.
Different lawyers have given me different opinions on whether he will be prevented from holding public events such as Tuesday's news conference during any legal proceedings.
If he can, then he can continue to publicise his cause and campaign for December's election from the heart of the European Union – the reason he came to Brussels in the first place.
Of course, if this story continues to take entirely unexpected twists, perhaps a legal quirk we haven't yet thought of will allow Belgian police to pick him up quickly.
But officers wandering into the coffee shop near the European Parliament, while TV cameras roll, would suit Mr Puigdemont just fine too.
It's clearly in his interests now to play the situation as best he can. He needs to be seen as the victim.
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