For­mer Cata­lan pres­i­dent ar­rested

Car­les Puigde­mont, the ex-Cata­lan re­gional pres­i­dent who has been at large since Oc­to­ber, was de­tained in Ger­many on Sun­day as a re­sult of a Euro­pean ar­rest or­der

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - News Staff Re­porter

AN­OTHER tur­bu­lent week in Cataluña’s pol­i­tics has ended with the ar­rest of for­mer leader Car­les Puigde­mont in Ger­many.

Ear­lier, a failed at­tempt to elect a new pres­i­dent of the re­gion’s par­lia­ment last Thurs­day was fol­lowed by the ar­rests of five for­mer Cata­lan politi­cians, while a sixth fled to Switzer­land.

Sr Puigde­mont was at­tend­ing a po­lit­i­cal con­fer­ence in Fin­land on Fri­day when a judge in Madrid re­ac­ti­vated Euro­pean ar­rest war­rants for him and five other Cata­lan politi­cians who have been in self-im­posed ex­ile.

The for­mer re­gional pres­i­dent was stopped af­ter his car crossed the bor­der into north Ger­many on his way back to Bel­gium, to where he fled fol­low­ing the il­le­gal Oc­to­ber ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence. He has been re­manded in cus­tody and Ger­man au­thor­i­ties have 60 days to de­cide whether to ac­cede to Spain’s ex­tra­di­tion re­quest.

He faces charges of sedi­tion and re­bel­lion in Spain and his de­ten­tion led to demon­stra­tions of sup­port for him on the streets of Barcelona and other Cata­lan cities later on Sun­day. Nine peo­ple were re­ported de­tained and 98 in­jured, in­clud­ing 13 po­lice of­fi­cers.

On Tues­day, rad­i­cal pros­eg­re­ga­tion ac­tivist blocked the main roads into Cataluña from the south (the AP-7 and N-340 from Va­len­cia), to the north (the A-7 at Figueres junc­tion on the bor­der with France) and to­wards the west (the A-2 to­wards Zaragoza in Lérida prov­ince).

The road blocks caused huge tail-backs and led to con­fronta­tions with mo­torists - spe­cially lorry driv­ers. Sim­i­lar ac­tions took part along Barcelona's main Avenida Di­ag­o­nal.

Later in the day po­lice were or­der to re­move the blocks and the hu­man chains that had been formed - again lead­ing to con­fronta­tions and even at­tack from the pro­tes­tors.

The clashes fol­lowed protests on Fri­day af­ter a Supreme Court judge in Madrid or­dered five more Cata­lan lead­ers to be de­tained with­out bail, pend­ing pos­si­ble trial for re­bel­lion, em­bez­zle­ment and disobe­di­ence fol­low­ing the Oc­to­ber ref­er­en­dum, of­fences which could re­sult in 30 year prison terms.

News of the ar­rests gave fuel to pre­vi­ously-or­gan­ised protests in Barcelona and else­where later that day. Clashes with po­lice wield­ing riot ba­tons re­sulted in at least 20 ar­rests.

Those jailed in­clude for­mer speaker of the Cata­lan par­lia­ment Carme For­cadell and three for­mer min­is­ters, Josep Rull, Raul Romeva and Dolors Bass, plus for­mer Cata­lan gov- ern­ment spokesman Jordi Tu­rull who is the lat­est can­di­date to have been nom­i­nated as Cataluña’s new pres­i­dent.

All have pre­vi­ously been held in de­ten­tion and their re­turn to prison fol­lows Judge Pablo Llarena’s de­ci­sion that all five are flight risks. A sixth ar­rest war­rant for Marta Rovira was is­sued but she failed to ap­pear in court, with me­dia re­ports that she had fled into ex­ile in Switzer­land.

The court also or­dered 14 mem­bers of the pre­vi­ous Cata­lan ad­min­is­tra­tion to pay back €2.1 mil­lion of pub­lic money which is al­leged to have been spent to stage the ref­er­en­dum and cover ju­di­cial costs.

On Satur­day, a sec­ond at­tempt to have Jordi Tu­rull voted in as Cataluña’s new pres­i­dent was can­celled fol­low­ing his ar­rest. A first at­tempt ear­lier in the week failed af­ter he was un­able to gain an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity of the votes cast by MPs af­ter four mem­bers of the ex­treme left CUP ab­stained. A sec­ond vote was then sched­uled for Satur­day at which a sim­ple ma­jor­ity would have seen Tu­rull in­stalled.

How­ever, Satur­day morn­ing’s ses­sion of the Cata­lan par­lia­ment went ahead with­out him, but with yel­low rib­bons dis­played on the seats of those MPs who are ei­ther in prison or ex­iled abroad. Speaker Roger Tor­rent, who spoke of the “re­pres­sion” of the Span­ish state, gave each party spokesman 15 min­utes to com­ment on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, but the Par­tido Pop­u­lar, who were op­posed to the move, chose to walk out be­fore the state­ments be­gan.

Ac­tivists block­ing ac­cess to the A-2 high­way in Lérida

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