Carles Puigdemont is released from prison
The judge has lifted the arrest and the former Catalan president is now out of jail and will be able to leave Italy
Sassari (Italy)Carles Puigdemont is now out of Bancari prison. After spending the night there and appearing before the judge from the penitentiary centre telematically, the Court of Appeal of Sassari has decided to release the former president, arrested on Thursday at Algher airport. Although his defence has requested a 24-hour postponement of the hearing, Puigdemont has been released without charge. In this way, the leader of Junts has left prison without paying any bail and, according to the head of the former president's office, Josep Lluís Alay, he will have "total freedom of movement" and, therefore, will be able to leave Italy. The magistrate has summoned Puigdemont to testify again on 4 October and then the question of extradition will be discussed.
Pending the court order, the main unknown to be resolved now is whether the Italian justice system will deal with the situation as an extradition process, as the Supreme Court has already asked it to do. The investigating judge in the case, Pablo Llarena, has sent the authorities in Sassari a copy of the European arrest warrant issued against Puigdemont, which, according to the Spanish high court, was still in force despite the latest communications from the General Court of the European Union.
In any case, the former president has left the prison accompanied by the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, the Minister of Foreign Action, Victòria Alsina, the Secretary of Foreign Action, Gerard Figueras, and the president of the regional assembly of Sardinia. Once outside the premises, a tide of journalists and people gathered to support him - some of them Sardinian pro-independence supporters - surrounded the former president, who said he was "fine" and praised the treatment received by the judicial, police and penitentiary authorities. "I know how these things go, I already have experience", explained Puigdemont on leaving the prison, recalling that in Germany he lived through a similar situation.
Since 30 July, Puigdemont, like Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, had been without parliamentary immunity to travel and was only covered when travelling to participate in the plenary of the European Parliament (with seats in Brussels and Strasbourg). Sources in his team of lawyers recognise that there was the option of him being arrested at some point, because the international arrest alarm continued to go off every time he crossed a border, but it has not been until now that the police have acted on a European arrest warrant that the Luxembourg Court interpreted as being in abeyance.