Catalan Separatist Leader, Carles Puigdemont, Arrested in Italy
MADRID — Carles Puigdemont, the former separatist leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, was arrested by Italian police Thursday night on the island of Sardinia, his office said in a statement, on an arrest warrant issued by Spain’s top court on charges of sedition.
Mr. Puigdemont, a member of the European Parliament, had been traveling to the Sardinian city of Alghero from Brussels, where he fled to avoid the charges. He had gone to Sardinia to attend a Catalan folklore festival known as the Adifolk Conference, the statement from his office said. When he arrived at the airport, he was detained by the police.
He faces a trial in Spain for his leading role in an unsuccessful attempt to declare an independent state in Catalonia in the fall of 2017, following a referendum that the Spanish government and courts had declared illegal to hold.
In March of this year, the European Parliament stripped him of his immunity, a move he has been fighting in the courts.
Josep Costa, an attorney working with Mr. Puigdemont, wrote on Twitter that his team believed he would be released in a few hours and called the arrest wrong.
“The shame will remain on Spain for history,” he wrote.
Spain’s government had no immediate comment on the arrest.