Former Catalan president arrested at Italian airport
The former president of Spain’s Catalan region Carles Puigdemont, who fled the country to avoid jail after leading a failed secession attempt in 2017, has been arrested on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Puigdemont was taken into custody upon his arrival at the Alghero airport, his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, said on Twitter. He’s expected to appear in court in the nearby city of Sassari, El Pais reported.
The former Catalan leader travelled to Italy to take part in a cultural festival in an area of Sardinia that is home to a Catalan-speaking minority, according to the Spanish newspaper.
The hearing may lead to his extradition to Spain, where he has been charged with sedition after triggering an illegal independence referendum. The European Parliament lifted Puigdemont’s immunity as a lawmaker in July, a decision that was then appealed.
Puigdemont’s lawyer said the arrest warrant should be suspended under EU law.
The detention comes in the wake of the first meeting between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalan President Pere Aragones, who are seeking to address the region’s issues.
A potential extradition would follow Sanchez’s high-stakes gamble of pardoning nine other Catalan leaders - including former Vice-President Oriol Junqueras - who never left the country and already served time in jail.
Sanchez’s minority government relies on Catalan separatists’ parliamentary support to pass legislation, including a national budget due to be approved soon.
Catalan President Pere Aragones said on Twitter that an amnesty is the only possible solution to face a “judicial persecution and oppression” that “must be stopped.”
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