EXILED former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has been inundated with messages of condolence after he announced that his father Xavier had died at the age of 91.

The politician has been in exile in Belgium since shortly after the October 2017 independence referendum and is wanted by Spanish authorities over his part in the independence bid.

He tweeted news of his father’s death late on Wednesday: “My mother, my sisters, and my brothers will always remember him as a man of goodwill, loyal to the values of grassroots Christianity.”

Quim Torra, Puigdemont’s successor as Catalan president, offered his condolences on social media: “The sadness over the death of his father is even deeper due to the injustice of exile and imposed distance. We join you in the embrace of a whole town that loves you. Rest in peace.”

Oriol Junqueras, Puigdemont’s former vice-president who is serving a 13-year sentence after being convicted of sedition over the indyref, tweeted from prison: “My condolences in such hard moments, Carles! A hug! How unfair that a son can’t say goodbye to his father.”

Although Puigdemont can travel freely within Europe, he faces arrest should he try to enter Spain, so will likely miss his father’s funeral.

The National: Clara Ponsati with solicitor Aamer Anwar after the hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Spain issued a fresh European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for him earlier this week, along with others for former ministers Clara Ponsati (above), Toni Comin and Lluis Puig, and he must remain in Belgium until authorities there decide whether to act on the EAW.

Puigdemont senior worked almost until his last day of life in the family bakery in the town of Amer, which he ran with his wife, Nuria Casamajo, and some of their eight children.

However, he had struggled to fully recover from a recent operation.

His son’s political party, Together for Catalonia, had planned a rally in Girona, where he was mayor, and his appearance by videoconference, but this was cancelled after the father’s death.

The exiled Puigdemont, meanwhile, warned acting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, that he has only two ways to force his return to Spain – both of which are “illegal, contrary to EU law and democracy”.

His comments followed a promise by Sanchez in a televised debate ahead of Sunday’s general election, that he would “bring Puigdemont to Spain to be held accountable by the courts”.

In a video message, Puigdemont said the first would be through taking decisions in cabinet which, in a “consolidated democracy”, could only be taken by the judiciary and which they could not take at the same time as respecting the constitution.

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He added: “The other is to do the same thing that a minister and other leaders of [Socialist party] PSOE did in the past, and which you likely justify, kidnapping people.”

This was a reference to the illegal groups which were established during Felipe Gonzalez’s government between 1982-96 to mount a “dirty war” against the Basque independence group ETA.

Puigdemont repeated his view – and that of the other exiles – that they would not be guaranteed a fair trial, and went on to warn Sanchez that he should worry about Spain’s poor image in relation to the independence of the judiciary.

“Let me say it clearly, you are irresponsible. And someone who is irresponsible will never be able to count on our support,” said Puigdemont.

“Because what’s needed is judgment, responsibility and dialogue and you’re completely the opposite ... I will continue fighting whilst I have freedom to do so. But I’m not alone. There’s a few of us in exile.”