Puigdemont, legal team and Catalan government welcome Italian court decision
Spanish conservatives have promised to ensure former Catalan president returns to Spain
The decision by the court in Sassari, Sardinia, to suspend Carles Puigdemont's extradition procedure pending EU court decisions has been welcomed by the former president, his lawyer and the Catalan government.
On leaving court on Wednesday afternoon, Puigdemont – speaking in Italian – said he was "very happy", while his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, simply tweeted, "justice", also in Italian.
Speaking in a press conference on Monday evening, the former Catalan president thanked his legal team and the Sardinian people, before asserting that he has won the right to live freely and urged Spain to give up efforts in extraditing him.
After relaying his previous court victories against attempts to have him extradited, Puigdemont called on Spain to stop trying to “continue along a pathway that clearly makes finding a political solution more difficult,” referring to the conflict between Catalonia and Spain.
The Junts per Catalunya figurehead went on to accuse Spain of "using the judiciary to achieve political goals" and lamented the "obsession” with “hindering" the work he does as an MEP.
Puigdemont was pleased with the outcome of the court hearing in Sassari, but said he was "outraged" that Spain was behaving "outside European standards."
"The reputation of the Spanish judiciary is badly damaged," he said.
The MEP also reiterated his demands for Europe to step in and get involved with finding a resolution. "It is time for the EU to realize the scale of the political conflict," he added.
Representatives of the Catalan government traveled to Sardinia to show their support for Puigdemont, including justice minister Lourdes Ciuró – a member of Puigdemont's party Junts – and Laura Vilagrà, presidency minister and member of Esquerra Republicana (ERC).
Before the hearing, Vilagrà said they were "certain that the Spanish judiciary will once again be defeated here today, as the Catalan government hopes. We have come to support [Puigdemont] and want this repression to come to an end."
The current Catalan president Pere Aragonès welcomed the release of his predecessor, posting on Twitter: "We celebrate Puigdemont's freedom. Justice in Europe positions itself, once again, against the repression of the [Spanish] state, but judicial persecution will only be halted with an amnesty and self-determination. We want all those persecuted free and back home."
Celebrem la llibertat del president Puigdemont. La Justícia a Europa es posiciona, un cop més, contra la repressió de l'estat, però la persecució judicial només s'aturarà amb amnistia i autodeterminació.— Pere Aragonès i Garcia 🎗 (@perearagones) October 4, 2021
Us volem lliures i a casa, a tots els represaliats.
ERC leader Oriol Junqueras also wrote a message on Twitter. "The justice that is lacking in Spain is delivered from – and will be delivered from – Europe," the former vice president of Catalonia said. "For an amnesty, self-determination and independence for Catalonia. With you, President," he added, referring to Puigdemont.
Parliament speaker Laura Borràs also voiced her approval, tweeting that Puigdemont was "even more free today" and that the Spanish judiciary was "more and more isolated," while Junts secretary general Jordi Sànchez said that "in Europe justice works", while "in Spain it neither works nor is expected to."
Ahead of Puigdemont's court appearance, the leader of the conservative People's Party, Pablo Casado, said he would ensure the former Catalan president returned to Spain, part of what he called a new "militant constitutionalism."
"We will take Puigdemont to the Supreme Court even if that means we have to travel to the last country in Europe to demand that our judiciary be respected. Enough with impunity for coup mongers!" he told supporters gathered in Valencia's bullring on Sunday.
Catalonia was at the center of Casado's speech. If the People's Party won the next Spanish election they would launch "a plan to strengthen the law and institutions to ensure national unity," he said, adding, "Catalonia is free because it is Spanish."