October 18. 2021. 5:17

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Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrested in Sardinia

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was detained on Thursday when he travelled to the city of Alghero from Brussels to attend the Adifolk International Exhibition. Photograph: Hatim Kaghat/AFP/Getty Images


The former Catalan government head Carles Puigdemont has been detained by Italian police in Sardinia, his office said in a statement.

Mr Puigdemont was detained on Thursday when he travelled to the city of Alghero from Brussels to attend the Adifolk International Exhibition and to meet with the regional head of Sardinia and its ombudsman, his office said in a statement.

“When he arrived at the Alghero airport, he was stopped by the Italian border police. Tomorrow he will be placed at the disposal of the judges of the court of appeal of Sassari, which is competent to decide whether to release him or extradite him,” his office said in the statement.

Spain has accused the Catalan separatist leader of sedition, claiming he helped organise a 2017 independence referendum deemed illegal by Spanish courts.

In March, the European parliament stripped Mr Puigdemont and two of his former ministers of parliamentary immunity.

Mr Puigdemont, Antoni Comin and Clara Ponsati — respectively the former health and education ministers in his government — had fled Spain in 2017 to avoid arrest in relation to the independence referendum. They have been the subject of European arrest warrants issued by Spain.

Ms Ponsati lives in Scotland, and Mr Puigdemont and Mr Comin in Belgium. The Belgian courts threw out an arrest warrant against the two in 2018 on the grounds that the charge of rebellion did not exist in Belgian law. The three were elected to the European parliament in 2019.

On Thursday, Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer Gonzalo Boye confirmed the detention in a tweet, but argued that the warrant had previously been suspended.–Guardian