Catalan independentist Carles Puigdemont will return to Brussels

I plan to return to Brussels on Monday because there is a meeting of the Foreign Trade Committee [du Parlement européen], of which I am a member, declared, Saturday September 25, the ex-president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, during a press conference in Alghero, a Sardinian city of Catalan culture. On October 4, I was summoned to the court of Sassari (northern Sardinia). I will indeed be present, because every time I have been summoned by the courts, I have presented myself, he assured.

Carles Puigdemont, 58, MEP since 2019, was arrested Thursday evening on his arrival at Alghero airport, where he was to participate in the Catalan Adifolk festival. He was released on Friday evening after pledging to be present on October 4 for a hearing on his extradition to Spain.

Spanish justice accuses him of sedition and of embezzlement of public funds.

He will continue to travel to Europe

Carles Puigdemont also made it known that he would continue to travel in Europe, defying Madrid and the European arrest warrant which has earned him regular legal setbacks on the continent for almost two years. We will never give up and I will continue to travel to Europe, assured Carles Puigdemont.

His arrest and then his release 24 hours later by the Italian justice prove it, according to him, in the fight of the Catalan separatists for freedom, democracy, defense of the right to self-determination, freedom of expression, freedom of movement.

According to his Italian lawyer Agostinangelo Marras, the decision on his extradition could take weeks.

Already arrested in Germany

In March 2018, he was arrested for the first time at the request of Spain, in Germany this time. But he was released a few days later.

The independentist enjoyed parliamentary immunity for a time, but the European Parliament lifted it on March 9 by a large majority. A measure confirmed on July 30 by the General Court of the European Union.

The decision of the European Parliament is however the subject of an appeal, the final judgment of which on the merits by the European Union justice must be rendered. at a later date. Its legal counsels therefore consider that Parliament’s decision is suspended, just like the application of the arrest warrant, and that their client must still benefit from his immunity.

Saturday morning, Carles Puigdemont had taken a walkabout in Alghero for his first public appearance after his release from the high security prison of Sassari.

I am very happy to be here, to enjoy this event, this cultural and linguistic event which has brought together political and cultural figures from Catalonia and Sardinia every year for nearly four decades, he told AFP. I’m used to being persecuted by Spain, but it always ends the same: I’m free.

Carles Puigdemont and Pere Aragones in Alghero, Italy. © REUTERS / YARA NARDI

He then met with the mayor of the city, Mario Conoci, the president of the Sardinian region, Christian Solinas, as well as with the Catalan president, Pere Aragones, and the president of the Parliament of Catalonia, Laura Borras.

Attempted secession in 2017

Catalonia’s attempted secession in October 2017 was one of the worst crises that Spain has experienced since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.

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.

Madrid reacted by putting the region under control and arresting the main leaders of the independence movement who had not fled abroad.