Saturday 10/16/21

Puigdemont leaves Sardinia but will return for hearing, says lawyer

 He is accused of rebellion and misappropriation of public funds in connection with the illegal referendum and Catalonia's attempted secession
FILED - Catalan MEP Carles Puigdemont holds a press conference regarding his immunity at the European Parliament in Brussels. Photo: Jan Van De Vel/European Parliament/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full
Puigdemont holds a press conference regarding his immunity in Brussels. Photo: Jan Van De Vel/EU Parliament/dpa.

Catalonian separatist leader Carles Puigdemont left Sardinia on Monday, his lawyer Agostinangelo Marras said, days after the politician was briefly detained, causing a minor diplomatic spat.

The release comes a week before a court is to decide whether Puigdemont is to be extradited.

Puigdemont, a member of the European Parliament, had previously said he would fly to Brussels for parliamentary meetings. He also said he would return to Sardinia for a hearing at the Court of Appeal on Monday.

Marras confirmed this plan remained in place.

Puigdemont was detained on Thursday at Sardinia's Alghero airport, based on an arrest warrant issued by Spain's top court.

He was taken to prison, before an Italian judge allowed him to leave, saying the politician did not pose a flight or security risk. She stressed that Puigdemont's arrest when he entered Italy had been legal, however.

Puigdemont's arrest caused outrage in Catalonia and a stir worldwide.

The Italian judge ordered a hearing on October 4, when the question of whether he is to be extradited will be clarified.

Sedition charges

Puigdemont faces charges of sedition for his role in conducting an illegal referendum on Catalonian independence in 2017. He is accused of rebellion and misappropriation of public funds in connection with the poll and Catalonia's attempted secession.

He fled abroad in 2017, but fellow lawmakers who remained were sentenced to prison terms of between nine and 13 years. They were pardoned in June.

As a Member of the European Parliament, Puigdemont is technically entitled to immunity from prosecution. However, the European Parliament lifted his immunity and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg rejected his request for interim legal protection. A final decision on the case is expected soon.

The Italian court made it clear that Puigdemont should not be detained or extradited until the legal dispute about immunity is finally resolved.