Carles Puigdemont detained in Germany: Who is this Catalonia separatist leader?
Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan secessionist leader, was detained in Germany on Sunday, March 25, on an international arrest warrant issued by Spain.
The 55-year-old controversial leader's lawyer informed about it, Reuters reported.
Puigdemont reached Germany from Denmark after exiting Finland on Friday, March 23, when it looked that the police would arrest him and begin an extradition process to hand him over back to the Spanish authorities.
Puigdemont was en route to Belgium where he has been in a self-imposed exile since the latter half of 2017, Reuters added. His lawyer did not reveal where exactly was Puigdemont was held in custody in Germany, Reuters also added. The leader faces up to 25 years in prison in his home country on charges of rebellion for organising a referendum for Catalonia that led to its unilateral declaration of independence in October last year. The referendum was held despite the court's ruling that it breached the Spanish constitution.
Last Friday, Spain's Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena gave the ruling that 25 politicians seeking Catalan separation would face charges of rebellion and be disobeying the state by organising a vote of secession.
A former journalist and the mayor of the city of Girona in northeastern Spain, Puigdemont called for a referendum after he became the president of the Catalan province in January 2016. He did so after the separatists won a majority in the regional parliament for the first time in an election held in September 2015. The movement was back on the track culminating in the independence referendum in on October 1, 2017. Puigdemont did not care for the court ban and went ahead with the referendum, triggering a huge political crisis that the police and administration failed to contain.
On October 27, the Catalan regional parliament voted to declare the province's independence from Spain, pushing Madrid to approve direct rule over it. The Spanish government dismissed Puigdemont's government and called fresh elections on December 21. Puigdemont lashed out at the central government and accused the Spanish Prime Minister Mariana Rajoy of illegally dismissing the Catalan parliament.
In this election as well, the pro-independence parties maintained their majority with Puigdemont describing it as a slap in the face for Prime Minister Rajoy. Puigdemont remained Madrid's main enemy since then.
Carles Puigdemont: A man with a steel resolve for independence
Born in a family whose members were outright pro-independence and the second of eight siblings, Puigdemont is known to be a convinced separatist in Amer, where he was born and brought up and Girona, where he served as a mayor between 2011 and 2016.
He was never apologetic about his call for separation from Spain, even not in 1980 when he joined former Catalan president Artur Mas's CDC party seeking to fulfil his goal although the party was more focused on negotiations to secure greater autonomy for Catalonia and not a complete secession.
Puigdemont left journalism to join politics in 2006 when he became a member of Catalan parliament and in 2015, he became the president of the Association of Municipalities for Independence which worked as a platform to unite local groupings to promote the idea of self-determination.
That the man is hell-bent to Catalonia's cause also became evident in 1991 when he launched a campaign to change the name of the city of Gerona to Girona which is about the Catalan spelling, one of his acquaintances revealed later.