Catalan Leader’s Detention Renews Calls For Independence From Spain

European Politics, Rundown, Spain

Carles Puigdemont, the former President of Catalan, was arrested and detained by police after a court appearance in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. He was then transferred by German police to Neumünster prison.

The arrest was carried out by Germany after Spain’s Supreme Court issued international arrest warrants for Puigdemont and six other politicians who fled Catalan and went into exile.

The Spanish government took over Catalan after Puigdemont called for a referendum to declare independence from Spain. After receiving word of his pending arrest by Spanish authorities, Puigdemont travelled to Brussels by way of Barcelona last October.

Puigdemont was in Finland as an invited guest to an event but left over the weekend to return to Belgium. Instead of traveling by air, Puigdemont set off by car. He was stopped by German police just after crossing the border from Denmark.

As it turned out, Spanish intelligence agents were collaborating with their European network to track down the whereabouts of Puigdemont. According to various news reports, Spanish intelligence agents had followed him to Finland and placed a tracking device in his car.

News of Puigdemont’s detention in Germany opened new calls for independence from Spain. Several secessionist groups rallied to gain support to bring Puigdemont back to the presidency.

Independence parties called for an urgent session in parliament to proceed with the exiled leader’s long- distance inauguration. This was another act of defiance against Spain’s Constitutional Court.

According to the presiding judge, Puigdemont must remain in detention until the courts have acted on Spain’s request for extradition. The process will take an estimated 60 days.

Spain has continued to go after independence leaders. Last week, 13 leaders were formally charged with rebellion and other offenses including misappropriation of public funds.

More than 60,000 protesters took to the streets in Barcelona to voice their anger on the arrests. There were repeated clashes with the police which left nearly 100 people injured.

Puigdemont received support from some quarters in Scotland. MSP Christina McKelvie and leaders of the SNP party said they would file a complaint with the Council of Europe and demand that the group take action to make sure individual’s rights to express his/her political beliefs were upheld.

Meanwhile UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated their position that would only support the rule of law in Spain.