Catalonia: the arrest of Puigdemont shocks the independence activists

Gathered a hundred meters from the Italian consulate in Barcelona on Avenue Diagonale, the separatists yesterday morning proclaimed their anger against the detention of Carles Puigdemont. Red and yellow flags in the flocked hand of the separatist star, Pilar Rahola, a friend of the Catalan leader is struggling to stay calm. “I am outraged. What the Italian police have done is incomprehensible. We do not understand. But we are sure that our president will soon be released”.

MEP since 20 month, Carles Puigdemont was to attend a festival of folklore and popular cultures in Sardinia. He had planned to meet with the autonomist leaders of the island but he was therefore arrested as he exited his plane at Alghero airport. Presented to an Italian judge, he was finally released last night, without judicial review and will simply have to respond to a summons from the Italian justice on October 4.

The current Catalan president immediately brought his support for the independentist on Twitter “Enough. Amnesty is the only way. Self-determination the only solution. By your side Carles”.

It is now a new standoff judicial process that begins for Carles Puigdemont who fled Catalonia four years ago, after the failure of the attempt at independence. Even if other Catalan leaders, condemned to heavy prison terms, were pardoned last June, Carles Puigdemont was still wanted for sedition by the Spanish justice.

But the timing of this arrest which lasted only 20 hours is surprisingly: the European justice had not suspended the lifting of his immunity as a MEP because it considered that there was no risk of ‘interpellation. “I don’t understand: I was still with Carles Puigdemont last week in Prats de Mollo (Pyrénées-Orientales) and there was no problem” indicates Elisenda Paluzie, independence leader.

For his lawyers, the arrest is illegal. After his quick release, they hope that the extradition will be rejected while the Spanish justice finally hopes to have him at its disposal in Madrid.

This arrest is in any case a new stone in the shoe by Pedro Sanchez. After having pardoned the Catalan prisoners, the Spanish Prime Minister entered into negotiations with Barcelona. The socialist needs the support of moderate separatists to get his budget voted in the Spanish Congress. “We cannot have a dialogue with a pre-fascist state,” says Pilar Rahola indignantly.

Moribund and losing momentum, the independence movement will now rally around its charismatic leader. A big demonstration is convened Sunday in Barcelona

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