For others, he is just a coward who led his citizens to chaos and ruin, and fled to Belgium. Today, he got his day in court.
At two o’clock, Puigdemont rolled up to the scaffolding-enshrined Justice Palace in Brussels to put his fate in a Belgian judge’s hands.
But history tells us that builders have a dubious reputation in the neighbourhood. The land exportation required to construct the Justice Palace, arguably the largest building of the 19th century, was so massive that ‘architect’ one of the worst insults you could hear in Brussels at that time.
The Belgian judge would not rule on Puigdemont’s skills and vision as a builder of a new nation. But whether he should be sent back to Spain to face trial on five charges, including rebellion and sedition, as the Spanish authorities requested.
The first hearing concluded with little progress. The judge scheduled another session for 4 December to decide whether Puigdemont and the four member of his dismissed government who escaped with him should be extradited to Spain.
One charge, corruption, was dismissed, which was seen as a victory by the defence, given that it would have triggered an automatic repatriation to Spain.
The decision could come in mid-December but the two-appeal system in Belgium would postpone the final verdict to early next year.
The defence argued that Puigdemont cannot return to Spain because his fundamental rights would not be respected. But the European Arrest Warrant would make it very hard for the Catalan and his former team to escape extradition.
Still, the Belgian prosecutor did his homework and asked his Spanish colleagues last week how the sacked Catalan government’s rights would be ensured.
He reminded them that the principle of “mutual trust”, the bedrock of the EAW, is not enough for a Belgian judge to comply with Madrid’s request.
Note EU-Digest: The fact of the matter is that Mr. Puigdemont did not comply with the constitutional law of Spain, caused public unrest, hurt the Spanish economy in doing so, and now, not only wasting the Spanish taxpayers money for the trouble he created - but in addition also that of the Belgian taxpayer, who have in fact been saddled up paying for Puigdemont's court case, and consequently, thereby also financing his Catalonia "pipe dream" propaganda from Belgium. It is high time for Belgium to stop this nonsense and waste of money. Mr. Puidemont and his cohorts should be extradited to Spain as soon as possible, where they can be prosecuted under Spanish law - as they should.
Read more: The Brief: Puigdemont, the doomed architect – EURACTIV.com