Catalonia: the former president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, was arrested in Sardinia

the essential The former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, exiled in Belgium since 2017, has was arrested in Italy on Thursday. The MEP was going to a cultural festival in Sardinia. A European arrest warrant was issued against him two years ago.

The independentist MEP and ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, in exile in Belgium since 2017 after the attempted secession of Catalonia the same year, was arrested Thursday in Italy, his lawyer said. “President Puigdemont was arrested on his arrival in Sardinia, where he was traveling as an MEP,” his lawyer Gonzalo Boye said on Twitter, explaining that his arrest had taken place on the basis of an arrest warrant European dating from 14 October 2019.

The Catalan leader, 58, was arrested in Alghero, his chief of staff confirmed on Twitter , Josep Lluis Alay. “On his arrival at Alghero airport, he was arrested by the Italian border police. Tomorrow (Friday) the president will be presented to the judges of the Sassari Court of Appeal, which is competent to decide his release or extradition, “said Josep Lluis Alay. He specified that Carles Puigdemont had gone to Alghero to participate in a cultural festival and to meet with elected officials from the Italian island.

Quan ha arrived at Alguer airport ha estat retingut per la policia fronterera italiana. Demà el President will be posat a disposició dels jutges de la Cort d’Apel·lació de Sàsser que és competent per decidir la posada en llibertat o la seva extradició.

– Josep Lluís Alay (@josepalay) September 23, 2021

Parliamentary immunity lifted in March

The arrest in Italy of Carles Puigdemont 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. The European Parliament had lifted the parliamentary immunity of Carles Puigdemont and two other independentist MEPs on March 9 by a large majority (248 votes against 248), a measure that had been confirmed on 30 July by the General Court of the EU.

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 Carles Puigdemont’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, Parliament’s decision is therefore “suspended”.

The new regional president of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, a separatist, but of more moderate tendency than Carles Puigdemont, immediately reacted on Twitter, “(condemning) strongly the persecution and this judicial repression”. “Enough. Amnesty is the only way. Self-determination the only solution. By your side Carles,” said Pere Aragones.

Before the persecució i repressió judicial, la més enèrgica condemna. S’ha aturar.

The amnesty és l’únic camí. Self-determination, l’única solució.

Al teu costat, president @krls.

– Pere Aragonès i Garcia ud 58 c udf 97 (@perearagones) September 23, 2019

Exiled in Belgium since the attempted secession of 2017 in order to escape prosecution by Spanish justice, Carles Puigdemont had not benefited from the pardon granted at the end of June to nine separatists imprisoned in Spain, the government of socialist Pedro Sánchez still wishing that he be tried in Spain. Carles Puigdemont is being prosecuted for “sedition” and “embezzlement of public funds”.

To read also: Catalonia: Puigdemont denounces “a political persecution”

A major crisis

Main figure in the attempted secession of Catalonia from 2017, Carles Puigdemont was immediately dismissed by Madrid. He then fled to Belgium to escape the Spanish justice system, which had sentenced in October 2018 to prison several former members of his government team for sedition.

In March 2018, Carles Puigdemont was arrested for the first time at the request of Spain, in Germany this time. But he was released a few days later after the German justice dropped the charge of “rebellion” against him.

The attempted secession of Catalonia in October 2017 was one of the worst crises experienced by Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 550. Despite the ban on justice, the regional government chaired by Carles Puigdemont had organized a self-determination referendum punctuated by police violence and followed, a few weeks later, by a stillborn declaration of independence. The Spanish government, then led by the conservatives, reacted by putting the region under trusteeship and arresting the main leaders of the movement who had not fled abroad.

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