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Puigdemont attends cultural event in Alghero following his release

Former Catalan president asserts he is 'right' to demand ECJ protect his rights and condemns 'persecution' against him

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25 September 2021 12:39 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Carles Puigdemont has attended the international gathering at the Adifolk festival in the Catalan-speaking city of Alghero, on the Italian island of Sardinia, on Saturday, a day after being released from police custody following his arrest on Thursday night

As planned before his arrest, the former president of Catalonia took part in the cultural event activities and met with organizers. Upon arrival, he was greeted by hundreds of people. 

"I'm used to being persecuted by Spain, but the end it's always the same: I'm free," Puigdemont said to the media at the event. In brief statements, the former president also said he "will continue to fight."

Earlier, he met with the Catalan Ombudsman, the president of Sardinia, and the current Catalan president, Pere Aragonès.

'We are right to demand the ECJ to defend our rights'

Carles Puigdemont gave a press conference on Saturday evening in Sardinia accompanied by his lawyer Gonzalo Boye.

In the press conference, Puigdemont ironically gave his appreciation to Spain for the "invaluable help" they gave to the Catalan independence movement by helping to give international coverage to it. 

"I encourage them to continue doing it because we are doing well," the former Catalan president who led the 2017 independence referendum remarked. 

Puigdemont is convinced that he was arrested by Italian police officers working in collaboration with Spain. "This is an operation instigated by the Spanish government and Spain, no doubt."

Regarding his arrest, which he classifies as “persecution,” Puigdemont said that the events of the previous days "prove all of our arguments, our reasons in our fight for freedom and democracy to defend the right to self-determination, the right to free speech, free movement, the right to engage in politics."

"We are right to demand to the European Court of Justice to defend our rights," Puigdemont says. "We will never give up this fight and I will continue travelling around Europe explaining."

Earlier this year, Puigdemont was stripped of his immunity as an MEP, only to have it restored, and then taken away again in what was only a provisional decision by the European court. However, in the court’s ruling, they specified that they saw no imminent danger of Puigdemont being arrested, and his legal team are hoping to have the immunity restored again given the events of this week. 

The former Catalan president made it clear that he is “very very pro-European.” He went on to say that “European justice is part of the basis of our hopes for a better democracy, a better Europe.” 

“Thankfully we have a good judicial system, strong and independent, here, after four years of persecution." 

The Junts per Catalunya leader was critical of the negotiation table between the Catalan and Spanish administrations earlier in September, a meeting that was not attended by any member of his party after their delegation was dismissed on the basis that only figures ranking as high as a ministerial position should attend. Junts had proposed other members of their party but no ministers of theirs in the Catalan government. 

"The whole world can see that a part of the independence movement is not accepted at the dialogue table," Puigdemont said. He also criticized that the Spanish government "can give the impression that they only want to engage in dialogue with those who give them parliamentary support," referring to pro-independence allies Esquerra Republicana, who facilitated Pedro Sánchez being named Spanish president after the last general election by abstaining in the vote to name the new head of government. 

As Puigdemont has been given the freedom to travel throughout the European Union after appearing at the Sardinia court on Friday afternoon, he will return to his home in Brussels on Monday. Puigdemont also confirmed that he will attend the scheduled court hearing in Sardinia on October 4.

Legal team confident case will be dropped

Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of Carles Puigdemont, is confident that the extradition case against the former president will be dropped.

"This procedure is dead, the death certificate needs to be issued," Boye said on Catalunya Ràdio on Saturday before catching a plane to Sardinia to assess the situation with Italian lawyers. 

Boye also called for the creation of committees of inquiry in the Spanish congress and the Catalan parliament to investigate "what public resources are being spent” on the various “irregularities” being committed in the name of “persecution” of independence leaders.

The lawyer is convinced that the former president has his immunity "fully recognized" except for what has to do with "a European order that is suspended." According to him, this is what the Italian court recognized on Friday when they released Puigdemont.

In any case, the former Catalan president will have to appear before the Sardinian court on October 4, when the magistrates will have to decide on how to proceed with his extradition case. 

The Supreme Court has made numerous attempts in the past four years to have Puigdemont extradited but have failed on each past occasion. Click here for a full explanation of why the ex-Catalan president has been arrested and why past attempts have not been successful.

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  • Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont meets with organizers of the Adifolk festival in Alghero, Sardinia, on September 25, 2021 (by Miquel Codolar)

  • Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont meets with organizers of the Adifolk festival in Alghero, Sardinia, on September 25, 2021 (by Miquel Codolar)

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