German police on Sunday arrested Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, as he crossed over by car from Denmark, in the latest blow to the Spanish region’s independence movement.
Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, said on Twitter that Puigdemont was picked up by German police as he was travelling back to Belgium where he has been living in self-imposed exile.
1. El president Carles Puigdemont ha estat retingut a Alemanya quan creuava la frontera des de Dinamarca, de camí cap a Bèlgica des de Finlàndia.— J. Alonso-Cuevillas (@JaumeAlonsoCuev) March 25, 2018
The news was confirmed, when a German police spokesman told AFP that Puigdemont "was arrested today at 11:19 am by Schleswig-Holstein's highway patrol force," adding that the detention was based on a European warrant. "He is now in police custody."
Puigdemont's party spokeswoman Anna Grabalosa also confirmed that he was detained on arrival in Germany from Denmark according to The Local. "It happened as he crossed the Danish-German border. He was treated well and all his lawyers are there. That is all I can say," she said.
Puigdemont was driving in Germany on Sunday morning, en route from Denmark, when police detained him on an international arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge. Puigdemont has been charged by Spain with "rebellion" and "sedition" over his failed independence bid for Catalonia. He had been visiting Finland since Thursday, but slipped out of the Nordic country before Finnish police could detain him.
Puigdemont has defied repeated requests to appear before the Spanish judge investigating his secessionist push, refusing to return to Spain from his self-imposed exile in Belgium. As the WSJ reminds us, Puigdemont fled in October to Brussels and had used the Belgian city as a base to travel around Europe to speak at conferences in a bid to drum up international support for an independent Catalonia. But he’s avoided returning to Spain, where judicial officials have said he would be arrested immediately.
The arrest paves the way for the extradition of Puigdemont back to Spain, which would cut short the plans of the former Catalan leader to remain in self-imposed exile to try to drum up international support for an independent Catalonia. Separatists were devastated that no country recognized their independence declaration in October and see international backing as essential to ensure a secessionist push in the future is more successful. But the separatist movement has lost momentum in recent months, with many of its leaders in self-imposed exile or in jail, pending the trial for rebellion. Puigdemont’s arrest is a merely the latest blow.