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Catalan Separatist Leader, Carles Puigdemont, Arrested in Italy

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MADRID — Carles Puigdemont, the previous separatist chief of Spain’s Catalonia area, was arrested by the Italian police Thursday night time on the island of Sardinia, his workplace mentioned in a press release, on an arrest warrant issued by Spain’s prime court docket on expenses of sedition.

Mr. Puigdemont, a member of the European Parliament, had been touring to the Sardinian metropolis of Alghero from Brussels, the place he had fled to keep away from the costs, first introduced in 2017.

He had gone to Sardinia to attend a Catalan folks tradition pageant generally known as the Adifolk Convention, the assertion from his workplace mentioned. When he arrived on the airport, he was detained by the Italian police.

He faces a trial in Spain for his main position in an unsuccessful try and declare an unbiased state in Catalonia within the fall of 2017, following a referendum that the Spanish authorities and courts had declared unlawful to carry.

In March of this 12 months, the European Parliament stripped him of his immunity, a transfer he has been preventing within the courts. In July, a European court docket denied a request to reinstate it.

Josep Costa, an legal professional working with Mr. Puigdemont, mentioned on Twitter that he anticipated his shopper would quickly be launched.

“The disgrace will stay on Spain for historical past,” he wrote.

Spain’s authorities made no rapid touch upon the arrest.

The arrest will little question add turbulence to a renewed effort to hunt an finish to Spain’s territorial battle over Catalonia. Simply final week, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, met together with his regional counterpart, Pere Aragonès, in Barcelona to debate the destiny of the restive area.

Amongst Mr. Aragonès’s calls for is a name for a normal amnesty for these jailed or going through expenses associated to the 2017 independence try. On the prime of the listing for a lot of is Mr. Puigdemont.

In June, Mr. Sánchez issued pardons to the 9 independence activists who had been given prolonged sentences for sedition. However Spain says it might’t supply any pardon to Mr. Puigdemont till he stands trial.

The separatist battle continues to be one of the crucial divisive political points in Spain.

In 2017, when Mr. Puigdemont was regional chief, Catalonia’s authorities staged an independence referendum in defiance of Spain’s authorities and its courts, which had declared the vote unlawful. Cops confiscated ballots and even beat individuals who tried to vote.

After the central authorities took management of the area, and because it turned clear that sedition expenses have been within the offing, Mr. Puigdemont fled Spain and was declared a fugitive.

The arrest was welcome information to conservative politicians in Spain, who applauded the transfer on Thursday night time.

“Puigdemont have to be tried in Spain for his strike towards constitutional legality, and Sánchez should decide to respecting the judgment of justice with out pardons,” mentioned Pablo Casado, the pinnacle of the conservative Widespread Celebration.

Spain has repeatedly failed in its makes an attempt to extradite Mr. Puigdemont, each from Belgium the place he has resided since late 2017, and likewise Germany, the place he was briefly detained in 2018. A German court docket ordered his launch after turning down Spain’s extradition request

La Nuova Sardegna, an area Sardinia newspaper, had reported on Wednesday that Mr. Puigdemont can be a shock visitor on the folks pageant in Alghero, a metropolis with deep Catalan roots.

Based on Italian media, Mr. Puigdemont additionally confirmed that he would attend this weekend’s Corona de Logu, an meeting of native actions supporting Sardinia’s independence from Italy.

A spokesman for the area of Sardinia mentioned authorities had arrested Mr. Puigdemont proper as he stepped off the aircraft at Alghero-Fertilia airport on Thursday.

Jason Horowitz contributed reporting from Treviso, Italy, and Raphael Minder from Madrid.

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