Almost four years after fleeing to Belgium, following the attempted secession of October 2017 and in order to escape Spanish justice, the former President of the Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, has been arrested , Thursday September 23, in Italy. The pro-independence MEP, whose parliamentary immunity was lifted in March, was detained by the Italian police in the evening, upon his arrival at Alghero airport (Sardinia), where he was preparing to participate in the 33e edition of the International Festival of Catalan Culture (Adifolk), which was also to welcome many of Catalonia’s leading officials.
Under a European arrest warrant issued by the Spanish justice in October 2019 for “sedition” and “financial embezzlement”, he was transferred overnight to Bancali prison. He was due to appear before the Sassari Court of Appeal on Friday morning, according to Alghero’s honorary consul, to decide whether to proceed with his extradition or to release him. As the waiver of immunity is the subject of an appeal before the Court of Justice of the European Union, Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, considers that the European arrest warrant was, in fact, “Suspended”.
In Catalonia, the indignant reactions did not take long. The current president of the Catalan government, the moderate independence activist Pere Aragones, has asked on Twitter for the end of “Persecution and judicial repression”. “Amnesty is the only way. Self-determination, the only solution. By your side, President Carles ”, published the leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), which governs in coalition with the party of M. Puigdemont, Junts.
The ex-Catalan president, the radical independentist Quim Torra, called on the separatists to be in “Maximum alert”, and qualified a possible extradition of “Catastrophic”. The independence organization Catalan National Assembly also called a demonstration in front of the Italian consulate in Barcelona at 9 a.m. on Friday, a public holiday in the Catalan city. A few hundred people attended, including several members of the Catalan government.
The head of the Spanish government, the socialist Pedro Sanchez, for his part remained silent all night on his social networks, where he is usually very active. The Secretary of State for Communication of La Moncloa, seat of government, contented itself with a press release, recalling that “The detention of Mr. Puigdemont obeys an ongoing legal procedure which applies to any citizen of the European Union who must answer for his acts in front of the courts”.
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