Former Catalan leader Puigdemont says he will return to Belgium before attending the October hearing in Italy

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Former Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, said he would return to Belgium on Monday, but would return to Italy for a court hearing there on Spain’s extradition request.

Puigdemont, who had been arrested in Italy at Spain’s request for an independence referendum that Madrid ruled illegal, spoke while being allowed to leave prison free pending the Oct. 4 extradition hearing.

“I plan to return to Brussels on Monday because there is a meeting of the foreign trade committee, of which I am a member,” he told reporters in the Sardinian town of Algero.

“On October 4, I was summoned to the court of Sassari (in the north of Sardinia).” In fact I will attend, because every time I have been summoned by the courts, I have presented myself, “he added.

Puigdemont, a member of the European Parliament who fled Spain after the 2017 vote, had been released from jail in the Sardinian city of Sassari on Friday to applause from supporters abroad. He traveled to the Italian island to attend a Catalan folklore festival in the city of Alghero.

The 58-year-old separatist leader had spent the night there after being detained the day before, but his lawyer said he had been told he was free to go.

“We will continue fighting. We will never give up and I will continue traveling in Europe,” said Puigdemont at a press conference in Alghero, where he was accompanied by the mayor of the city. “I’ll be back in Brussels on Monday.”

The separatist leader, who headed the government of Catalonia at the time of the independence vote and has exiled himself in Belgium since then, praised Rome for handling his case quickly, after Spain demanded that Italy extradite Puigdemont. .

“I am happy with the end result. Because our political and legal arguments have been tested,” he said. “The Italian justice took only a few hours to make this decision.”

( Jowharwith AFP & REUTERS)