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Spain says Catalan separatist leader detained in Italy must face Spanish courts

Protestors applaud former member of the Parliament of Catalonia Jordi Turull, during a demonstration in front of Italy's consulate, following the arrest of former Catalan government head Carles Puigdemont in Sardinia on Thursday, in Barcelona, Spain, September 24, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, who was detained by Italian police in Sardinia, must face justice in Spain, the Spanish government said on September 24 ahead of an extradition hearing.

"Mr. Puigdemont must submit to the action of the courts, exactly like any other citizen," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's office said in a statement.

Spain has accused Mr. Puigdemont, the former Catalan regional head, with sedition, claiming he helped organise a 2017 independence referendum deemed illegal by Spanish courts.

The Catalan leader was detained by Italian border police at Alghero airport as he arrived on the island of Sardinia on the evening of September 23.

He is due to attend an Italian court on the morning of September 24, though it is unclear whether the judge will decide whether he should be extradited, Italian news wire ANSA reported.

"We believe that the judicial authorities will release Puigdemont. This is the fourth time this has happened," his lawyer Gonzalo Boyer told.

In March, the European Parliament stripped Mr. Puigdemont of the immunity he enjoyed as a member since 2019. Mr. Puigdemont was living in self-imposed exile in Belgium. He had travelled to Alghero from Brussels to attend the Adifolk International Exhibition and to meet with the regional head of Sardinia and its ombudsman, according to his office.

Mr. Puigdemont was subject to a European arrest warrant issued by Spain, which is seeking his extradition over his role in the independence bid.

The referendum brought on Spain's biggest political crisis in decades and was followed by a unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament in October 2017, which prompted the central government to impose direct rule from Madrid and authorities to arrest separatist leaders.

Separatists groups in Barcelona said they would demonstrate on the morning of September 24 to protest against Mr. Puigdemont's arrest.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 8:38:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/spain-says-catalan-separatist-leader-detained-in-italy-must-face-spanish-courts/article36645376.ece

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