Arrested yesterday in Italy, Carles Puigdemont was released pending a decision on his extradition

“President Puigdemont was arrested on his arrival in Sardinia, where he was traveling as an MEP”. This is what Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer for Carles Puigdemont, pro-independence MEP and former Catalan president, said on Thursday. In exile in Belgium since 2017, after the attempted secession of Catalonia the same year, the Catalan leader was arrested Thursday, September 23 in Italy, on the basis of a European arrest warrant dated October 14, 2019.

Carles Puigdemont was released today. He left Sassari prison in Sardinia on Friday without making a statement. According to his lawyer, he was allowed to leave Italy pending the next hearing he plans to attend on October 4.

The independence leader, who took a walkabout Saturday in Alghero, a port city of Catalan culture in the north of the Italian island, announced in the evening that he would return to Belgium on Monday.

The European Parliament lifted Puigdemont’s immunity last March

Thursday’s arrest came a week after the resumption of negotiations between the left-wing Spanish government and the Catalan regional executive, the aim of which is to find a solution to the political crisis in Catalonia.

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On March 9, the European Parliament lifted the parliamentary immunity of Carles Puigdemont and two other independentist MEPs by a large majority (400 votes against 248). The measure was confirmed on July 30 by the General Court of the European Union.

But the decision of the European Parliament has been the subject of an appeal whose final judgment, on the merits, by the EU justice must be pronounced. “at a later date”. According to the interpretation of Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of Carles Puigdemont, the decision of Parliament is therefore “suspended”.

Peres Aragones, the new regional president of Catalonia, a separatist, but of more moderate tendency than Carles Puigdemont, immediately reacted on Twitter by condemning “firmly on the persecution and this judicial repression.” He added : “Enough. Amnesty is the only way. Self-determination the only solution. By your side Carles”, launched Mr. Aragones.

Main figure in the 2017 Catalonia secession attempt, Carles Puigdemont was immediately dismissed by Madrid. He then fled to Belgium to escape Spanish justice, which had sentenced, in October 2019, to prison, several former members of his government team for sedition. He had not benefited from the pardon granted at the end of June to nine separatists imprisoned in Spain, because the government of the socialist Pedro Sánchez still wanted him to be tried in Spain.

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The former Catalan president had already been arrested for the first time in March 2018 in Germany, at the request of Spain. But he was released a few days later after the German justice dropped the charge of “rebellion” against him.

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