Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrested in Italy

MADRID – Carles Puigdemont, the former separatist leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia, was arrested by Italian police on Thursday evening on the island of Sardinia, his office said in a statement, on an arrest warrant issued by the highest Spanish court for sedition.

Mr Puigdemont, member of the European Parliament, had traveled to the Sardinian town of Alghero from Brussels, where he had fled to avoid accusations. He had traveled to Sardinia to attend a Catalan folklore festival known as the Adifolk Conference, according to the statement from his office. On his arrival at the airport, he was arrested by the police.

He faces 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 this year, the European Parliament withdrew his immunity, a decision he has fought against in court.

Josep Costa, a lawyer working with Mr Puigdemont, wrote on Twitter that his team believed he would be released within hours and called the arrest bogus.

“Shame will remain on Spain for history,” he wrote.

The Spanish government made no immediate comment on the arrest.

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