POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - JUSTICE

European arrest warrant

Catalan pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont arrested



Carles Puigdemont had taken refuge in Belgium in 2017. On 30 July this year he lost an appeal at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg against a ruling that lifted his MEP immunity against arrest. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Carles Puigdemont had taken refuge in Belgium in 2017. On 30 July this year he lost an appeal at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg against a ruling that lifted his MEP immunity against arrest. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan pro-independence leader, has been arrested in Sardinia. He is being prosecuted by the Spanish justice system for "sedition" and "embezzlement" and has been living in exile in Belgium since 2017.

It was on his arrival in Sardinia on Thursday that Carles Puigdemont was arrested. An Italian court will decide today whether to release him or extradite him to Spain.

A former president of the Catalan region and member of the European Parliament, Puigdemont has been under scrutiny by the Spanish authorities since his region held a referendum on self-determination, a step towards de facto independence. Since then, Puigdemont has been living in exile in Belgium.

In March 2021, the European Parliament lifted his parliamentary immunity, a decision confirmed on 30 July by the European Court of Justice. This made it possible to execute the European arrest warrant for him, though the court said that “there is nothing to suggest that the Belgian judicial authorities or the authorities of another member state could execute the European arrest warrants issued against the MEPs and hand them over to the Spanish authorities.” Spain had even indicated that no country would implement the arrest warrant.

This did not prevent its government from quickly referring to "its respect for the decisions of the Italian authorities and courts (...) The arrest of Carles Puigdemont corresponds to an ongoing judicial procedure that applies to any EU citizen who has to answer for his actions before the courts."

A demonstration of support will take place this Friday in Barcelona.

In 2019, nine pro-independence elected representatives or officials had been given sentences ranging from nine to 13 years in prison for their role in the 2017 self-determination referendum. All nine were pardoned last June by the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, but Carles Puigdemont was not among those granted a pardon.

This article was originally published in French on Paperjam.lu. It has been translated and edited for Delano.lu