Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont vowed on Saturday to “continue the battle” after his release from prison on the Italian island of Sardinia. Mr Puigdemont was arrested by Italian authorities on Thursday but released a day later pending an extradition hearing on October 4. The Catalan leader had gone to Sardinia to attend a Catalan cultural event in Alghero, the capital of Sardinia.
Four years after leaving Spain, former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was detained by Italian police on the island of Sardinia, due to a referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain. He was released pending a hearing on his extradition to Spain.
“I am used to being persecuted by Spain, but the end is always the same: I am free and I will continue the battle,” Puigdemont said as he was greeted with applause and calls by those present at the Catalan cultural event in Sardinia.
Sardinia has strong Catalan cultural roots as well as in its movement for independence. About 20% of the inhabitants of the Sardinian capital Alghero speak a dialect derived from Catalan and recognized by both the Italian central government and the Sardinian government.
Mr Puigdemont and a number of his separatist colleagues settled in Belgium in October 2017, for fear of arrest following the holding of a referendum on Catalan independence, which the Spanish courts and government said was illegal.
Although Mr Puigdemont has a seat in the European Parliament, the legislature has stripped him of his parliamentary immunity.
Mr Puigdemont was invited to attend a Catalan cultural event and a meeting with sympathizers seeking Sardinian independence. The judge who authorized his release ruled that Mr Puigdemont was free to travel without restrictions.
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