Puigdemont says his arrest gives international coverage to the independence movement
Former Catalan president confirms he will appear in person before Sassari Court of Appeals on October 4
Following his arrest on Thursday evening in the Catalan-speaking city of Alghero, on the Italian island of Sardinia, Carles Puigdemont gave a press conference on Saturday evening accompanied by his lawyer Gonzalo Boye, the head of his office, Josep Lluís Alay, and a Sardinian official.
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.
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."
He regards his arrest as a form of “persecution” and 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.