Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was detained on Sunday morning after he crossed into Germany from Denmark by German police acting on a European arrest warrant. He is wanted on charges of sedition and rebellion in Spain.
In reaction to the arrest, large protests have broken out in Catalonia, with tensions in some areas running high. In the protest in Barcelona, where according to Barcelona city hall 55,000 took to the streets, 50 have been treated for injuries, according to Catalan emergency services. Three people have also been arrested.
Puigdemont had been wanted in Spain since leading a parliamentary session in October last year that saw separatist lawmakers vote for the region of Catalonia to declare independence from Spain. He and 12 other separatist leaders were officially charged with rebellion on Friday.
After the vote, Puigdemont fled Spain and took up residence in Belgium. When he arrived, Spanish courts had activated a European arrest warrant, but it was later deactivated. On Friday, another international arrest warrant was issued, and on Saturday Puigdemont’s lawyer confirmed that the separatist leader had left Finland, where he had been holding meetings.
Protesters, some of whom also cut highways Sunday evening and have said they may remain overnight, are calling for the release of “political prisoners”.
According to German media, Puigdemont was transferred to a prison in the northern town of Neumünster and will appear before a German court on Monday.
In Catalonia, pressures remain high, as the region’s attempts to form a government are continually frustrated. Pro-Catalan independence parties won a majority of seats in recent elections but the main separatist leaders and candidates for the presidency are either in prison or self-imposed exile abroad.