The former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, has been arrested on arrival in Sardinia this morning, Thursday 24th September.
He was detained by Italian police at the airport, under an outstanding European arrest warrant issued by the Spanish authorities following the illegal independence referendum in 2017.
The referendum in October of that year, resulted in a victory for the separatists but had been ruled illegal by the central government led to a short-lived declaration of independenc and the worst political crisis since the re-establishment of democracy in 1978.
The former president of the Generalitat, who has been a fugitive from Spanish Justice and resident in Belgium, since, is also a sitting MEP is charged with sedition.
His lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, confirmed the arrest, and pointed out that “it is on the basis of the Euro Order of October 14, 2019, which, by legal imperative, as established by the CJEU Statute, is suspended”.
El President Puigdemont ha sido detenido a su llegada a Cerdeña donde acudía como eurodiputado; esta detención es en función de la euroorden de 14 de octubre de 2019 que, por imperativo legal -según establece el Estatuto del TJUE, se encuentra suspendida.
— Gonzalo Boye (@boye_g) September 23, 2021
The Madrid court had initially tried and failed to extradite Mr Puigdemont in 2019.
As an MEP he was able to claim immunity from prosecution but the European Parliament voted to annul this last year.
He appealed against the decision which the EU´s general court upheld – but on the basis that there was no immediate risk of arrest.
Spanish authorities say the European arrest warrant was “never deactivated”.
Catalonia’s current president Pere Aragones, condemned the detention, describing it as political “persecution.”
Mr Boye said that Puigdemont had travelled to the Mediterranean island for a Catalan folklore festival.
The Sardinian judge will now need to make a ruling if the arrest warrant is valid and can be served.