Crime & Justice

Former Catalan leader Puigdemont released until ruling on Oct.4

(Update 1: changes headlines, adds details)

Sassari, Italy, Sep 24 (EFE).- The Italian court of Sassari in Sardinia on Friday released former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after he was detained Thursday on a European arrest warrant.

The Catalan separatist will have to return to the Italian island for a hearing on October 4, but will be able to leave in the meantime.

Puigdemont, under self-imposed exile in Belgium, was arrested by the Italian border police at Sardinia’s Alghero airport Thursday evening.

While the Spanish government said Puigdemont should face justice in Spain, Italy’s ministry of justice said it had no power to decide on neither the arrest nor the extradition of the former leader as he is under a European arrest warrant.

Hundreds of supporters of the separatist movement waving independence flags gathered in front of the Italian consulate in Barcelona to demand his release.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium in 2017 after Spain accused him of sedition for calling an independence referendum in Catalonia, which the central government ruled illegal.

He has since lived in Brussels where he sits as a member of the European Parliament since 2019.

In March this year, the Parliament decided to strip his immunity after ruling there was no immediate risk of an arrest.

In June, Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez pardoned nine other Catalan leaders jailed for sedition for taking part in the referendum. EFE

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