Saturday 10/16/21

Catalan separatist Puigdemont travels back to Sardinia for hearing

Monday's hearing in a court in the city of Sassari is about whether Italy must hand Puigdemont over to Spain

03 October 2021, Spain, Barcelona: Pro-independence activists march with Esteladas flags during a protest held to mark the 4th anniversary of the Catalan General strike, which was staged in 2017 two days after a banned referendum on the independence. Photo: Matthias Oesterle/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Activists march with Esteladas flags to mark the 4th anniversary of the Catalan General strike, which was staged in 2017 two days after a banned referendum on the independence. Photo: Matthias Oesterle/dpa.

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrived again on the Italian Mediterranean island of Sardinia on Sunday ahead of a highly anticipated judicial hearing.

Unlike on September 23, when he was detained for 24 hours on arrival on a Spanish arrest warrant, Italian border officials let him pass unmolested this time, the newspaper La Vanguardia reported.

Monday's hearing in a court in the city of Sassari is about whether Italy must hand Puigdemont over to Spain.

The judge at Spain's Supreme Court, Pablo Llarena, wants to put the 58-year-old on trial for the illegal independence referendum on October 1, 2017, and the subsequent failed secession of Catalonia from Spain.

Puigdemont was stripped of his office as head of the regional government at the time and fled to Belgium.

Only shortly before the court date in Sassari, Puigdemont had applied to the EU court in Luxembourg for the restoration of his immunity as a European parliamentarian under interim legal protection. It was initially unclear whether and when this would happen.

Legal protection denied

The European Parliament had lifted Puigdemont's immunity in March at Spain's request.

In July, the EU court denied interim legal protection, which means that he currently does not enjoy parliamentary immunity.

At the time, the court stressed that there was no threat of arrest because the Spanish public prosecutor's office had announced that the arrest warrant had been suspended.

In fact, however, this arrest warrant is still active, which is why Puigdemont was arrested in Sardinia on September 23. A judge ordered his release 24 hours later, citing his status as an EU parliamentarian.

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