judge delays ruling on the extradition request of Puigdemont by Spain | Carles Puigdemont
Former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has left a Sardinian courthouse after a judge delayed a decision on Spain’s extradition request and said he was free to travel.
Puigdemont came out with his lawyer, shook his hand and hugged his supporters, saying he was “very happy”, as he got into a van and was whisked away.
His Italian lawyer, Agostinangelo Marras, told reporters that a decision on his extradition to Spain, where he is accused of sedition, awaits rulings from a European high court regarding Puigdemont’s immunity. But Marras said his client was free to travel as he pleased while waiting.
Puigdemont was arrested on September 23 in Sardinia, where he arrived from his home in Belgium to attend a Catalan cultural festival at the invitation of a Sardinian separatist movement. He was released by a judge a day later pending Monday’s extradition hearing.
In March, Puigdemont and his separatist colleagues Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín had their immunity as members of the European Parliament lifted as requested by Spain after the European Union’s General Court said they did not have demonstrated that they were in danger of being arrested. Spain had requested the lifting of immunity.
Ponsatí and Comín were part of a contingent of high-level separatists who traveled to Sardinia on Monday to show their support for Puigdemont, triggering a demand sent by a Spanish judge to Italy to have them arrested as well. There was no immediate indication that they had been taken into custody.
Prosecutors have asked the judge to stay Puigdemont’s extradition proceedings, a request the judge is not obliged to accept, but it indicates that there is no will to extradite him to Spain .
A group of around 20 supporters gathered outside the courthouse as he arrived for the hearing accompanied by his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye. Some of the crowd shouted “freedom! “
Puigdemont, 58, has managed to avoid extradition since taking up residence in Waterloo, Belgium, after leading an illegal secession attempt in 2017 through the wealthy region of Catalonia in northeastern Switzerland. Spain.
After a Belgian court refused to return him in 2017, he was arrested the following year in Germany, but a court also refused to extradite him.
Several of his acolytes who remained in Barcelona were arrested and convicted of sedition and embezzlement of public funds.
In an attempt to defuse the political crisis inherited from his conservative predecessor, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez pardoned nine separatist leaders jailed in June. Puigdemont, and others like him who fled, could not benefit from the act of grace because they still have to face justice.
Puigdemont’s detention two weeks ago came as the former regional president struggled to maintain his preeminent role in the Catalan separatist movement, which has grown in popularity over the past two decades.
Puigdemont’s party lost the regional presidency of Catalonia and is now the minor member of a coalition led by a separatist rival, which is in talks with the Sánchez government to resolve the escalating crisis. Puigdemont’s party is not participating in negotiations that its leaders have criticized as a distraction from rebuilding its strength for another unilateral secession attempt.
Although they already enjoy some degree of autonomy, polls and election results show that around half of Catalans want to form a new state. The other half wish to stay in Spain, given the centuries of cultural and family ties uniting Catalonia with the rest of the country.
The majority of Spaniards are against the loss of Catalonia, which for decades represented a land of opportunity for those who moved there from the poorest regions.
Sardinia has historical and cultural links with Catalonia that date back to the 14th century.