Sat, 23 Oct 2021

BARCELONA, Spain: The office of Catalan separatist leader and former regional head Carles Puigdemont said he was arrested by Italian police in Italy on Thursday.

He was later released.

Puigdemont is accused by Spain of the crimes of sedition and helping organise a 2017 independence referendum, considered illegal by Spanish courts.

In March, the European Parliament stripped Puigdemont, who was living in self-imposed exile in Belgium, of immunity, which he enjoyed for being a member of parliament since 2019.

Puigdemont travelled from Brussels to Alghero on Thursday to attend the Adifolk International Exhibition and meet with Sardinia's regional head and ombudsman.

"When he arrived at Alghero Airport, he was stopped by Italian border police. Tomorrow, he will be placed at the disposal of the judges of the court of appeal of Sassari, which is competent to decide whether to release him or extradite him," according to a statement released by Puigdemont's office.

In a tweet, his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, confirmed the detention and stressed it is due to a European arrest warrant from 14th October, 2019, which, by "legal imperative, as stated by the European Court of Justice, is suspended."

Spain earlier tried to extradite Puigdemont for his role in the Catalan independence referendum and has issued a European arrest warrant for him.

The referendum, which was followed by a unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament in October 2017, caused Spain's most serious political crisis in many years and led the central government to impose direct rule from Madrid and arrest separatist leaders

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