Carles Puigdemont has escaped Spanish justice since 2017

Italy arrests Catalan independence leader, mulls extradition to Spain

Former president of the Catalan state government, Carles Puigdemont, was arrested in Sardinia, Italy on Thursday.

His lawyer Gonzalo Boye confirmed his arrest on Twitter saying: “President Puigdemont has been arrested on his arrival in Sardinia where he was going as an MEP.” Boye also said that the arrest warrant was dated October 14, 2019.

“Tomorrow (Friday), he’ll appear before the judges of the court of appeal of Sassari, who will decide whether to let him go or extradite him,” his chief of staff, Josep Lluis Alay, said.

The Spanish government expressed “its respect for the decisions of the Italian authorities and courts” following the arrest.

“The arrest of Mr Puigdemont corresponds to an ongoing judicial procedure that applies to any EU citizen who has to answer to the courts,” the Spanish government said in a statement.

The statement added that Puigdemont should “submit to the action of justice like any other citizen”.

Puigdemont along with three Catalan ministers fled Spain in 2017 following an independence referendum. Thats after the Spanish government declared the vote illegal and charged him with sedition.

Puigdemont is a member of the European Parliament and because of that, was protected from prosecution. In March MEPs waived that privilege and he was stripped of his immunity.

The separatist politician has lived in Belgium for four years.

He was reportedly in Sardinia to promote Catalan folklore.

Following his detainment, new Catalan president Pere Aragones condemned what he called the “persecution” of Puigdemont. He said: “In the face of persecution and judicial repression, the strongest condemnation. It has to stop.”

Aragones, a more moderate separatist than Puigdemont, added that “self-determination” was the “only solution”.

His arrest comes more than a week after Spain’s central government and the government of Catalonia resumed talks aimed at settling a dispute over the region’s push for independence. There has been no dialogue for one and a half years.

As part of Spain’s efforts to ease tensions it has pardoned separatists who had been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Earlier in the month there were protests in Barcelona with tens of thousands of people calling for independence. – DW.

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