Italian court refuses to extradite Catalan separatist leader to Spain

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An Italian court in the Sardinian town of Sassari has ruled that the former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont will not be extradited to Spain to face charges of sedition for the time being.

In the ruling, the judges said that the central question in the case was whether or not Puigdemont’s immunity as a member of the European Parliament was still in force or not.

The EU legislature has withdrawn his immunity after holding a parliamentary vote on the matter, but Puigdemont has appealed to the European Court of Justice, which is yet to rule on the case.

The Sardinian court therefore postponed its final ruling until a decision has been made by the ECJ, and in the meantime Puigdemont is free to leave Italy.

Spanish authorities are seeking to put the Catalan separatist leader on trial for sedition for his role in an illegal independence referendum held in Catalonia in October 2017.

Puigdemont was arrested 10 days ago on his arrival in Sardinia. However, after spending just one night in custody, Puigdemont was released unconditionally by a court order. He left Sardinia after his release, but returned on Monday to attend the extradition hearing as he had said he would.

Puigdemont has ridiculed Spain’s attempts to extradite him, accusing Madrid of abusing legal procedures to persecute its political enemies.

“Basta! Spain must no longer follow a path that complicates a political solution to a political conflict, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain,” the 58-year-old Puigdemont said.

Spanish Supreme Court justice Pablo Llarena on Monday repeated his call on the Italian judiciary to hand over Puigdemont as well as two other Catalan separatists facing trial in Spain who are members of the European Parliament.

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