Will Italy Hand a Wanted Catalan Separatist Leader to Spain?


An Italian court docket launched the previous chief of Spain’s Catalonia area on Friday, a day after his arrest, however ordered him to stay within the nation whereas authorities think about whether or not to ship him again to Spain to face trial, his lawyer stated.

Italian police detained Carles Puigdemont on Thursday evening beneath a European arrest warrant issued by a Spanish choose. Spain is looking for his return to prosecute him on expenses associated to the failed independence bid he led 4 years in the past.

The Italian choose didn’t request any additional detention of Mr. Puigdemont, his lawyer, Agostinangelo Marras, informed reporters.

“This should lead to the release of President Puigdemont within a few hours,” he stated, including that his consumer had no intention of returning to Spain.

He faces trial on sedition expenses in Spain for his main position in an unsuccessful try to declare Catalonia an unbiased state within the fall of 2017, following a referendum that the Spanish authorities and courts had declared unlawful.

Pablo Llarena, a Spanish Supreme Court choose, has pursued Mr. Puigdemont as a fugitive since he fled to Brussels in October 2017, and had issued a Europe-wide warrant for his arrest.

In 2019, the Supreme Court sentenced different main Catalan separatists to prolonged jail phrases over their roles in that secession try. But in June, the prime minister pardoned them and so they had been launched.

The separatist management of Catalonia has since pushed for a normal amnesty that would come with Mr. Puigdemont, even because the Supreme Court has maintained that he should first stand trial.

Italy’s judiciary will think about whether or not the Spanish sedition expenses justify handing over Mr. Puigdemont, who’s a member of the European Parliament.

But there are additionally questions on whether or not Spain’s judiciary had suspended its longstanding arrest warrant earlier than the previous Catalan chief traveled to Sardinia. Lawyers defending Mr. Puigdemont insist that this was the case.

The Spanish authorities stated on Friday that this was a matter for the courts in Italy and Spain.

“We cannot predict what will be the outcome of the detention,” stated Pilar Llop, Spain’s justice minister.

In the approaching weeks, Italian judicial authorities are anticipated to schedule a new listening to on whether or not to return him to Spain.

Mr. Puigdemont was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, which afforded him immunity from prosecution inside the European Union. But that Parliament stripped him of his immunity in March, a choice that was upheld by a European court docket in July.

Under the Italian judicial system, if the court docket determined to hand Mr. Puigdemont to Spanish authorities and he appealed, his case would transfer to an higher court docket in Rome the place the proceedings typically take six to eight months.

Defendants will not be permitted to go away Italy whereas awaiting the court docket’s choice.

Spain has repeatedly failed in its makes an attempt to carry Mr. Puigdemont house for trial, each from Belgium, the place he has lived since late 2017, and from Germany, the place he was briefly detained in 2018 earlier than a regional court docket ordered his launch.

Mr. Puigdemont’s journey to Italy supplied Spain’s judiciary a recent alternative to demand his return now that his parliamentary immunity has been stripped.

Italian judges shall be contemplating lighter expenses than these thought of within the German listening to. Mr. Puigdemont was then accused of rebel, a extra critical cost than sedition, and one for which the German court docket stated it didn’t see adequate grounds.

If Italy does finally think about surrendering Mr. Puigdemont, Martín Palladino, a Spanish professor of prison legislation who makes a speciality of extradition points, stated authorized points won’t be the one issue.

“We cannot rule out that politics will influence this, one way or the other,” he stated.

The sudden arrest instantly strained relations between politicians within the Spanish capital, Madrid, and Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. It comes simply a week after the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, made a long-delayed go to to Barcelona to resume talks with Pere Aragones, the chief of Catalonia, on ending the dispute infected by the independence bid.

From Brussels, Mr. Puigdemont has continued to wield vital affect over Catalan politics because the founding father of a hard-line separatist get together, Together for Catalonia. His seat within the European Parliament has additionally given him a platform from which to criticize Spain.

In Catalan elections in February, a left-wing pro-independence get together, Esquerra Republicana, narrowly surpassed Mr. Puigdemont’s group as the biggest separatist drive.

After the vote, Esquerra’s candidate, Mr. Aragones, took workplace because the regional chief, promising to cut back tensions and renew political dialogue with Madrid. Earlier this month, Mr. Aragones tussled with Mr. Puigdemont’s get together over who ought to sit on the negotiating desk with the central authorities.