Carles Puigdemont sought by Madrid government for his efforts to pull Catalan region out of Spain

A former Catalan leader sought by Spain for a failed secession bid awaited a court hearing Friday to argue against his extradition a day after Italian police detained him in Sardinia, an Italian island with strong Catalan cultural roots and its own independence movement, the Associated Press reported.

Police transferred Carles Puigdemont to a jail in the city of Sassari on Thursday night after he was detained on an international warrant at Alghero–Fertilia Airport. Alghero, a city on the island’s northwest coast, is hosting a traditional Catalan folklore festival that Puigdemont was expected to attend.

“Freedom, freedom,″ shouted demonstrators outside the courthouse in Sassari. They held signs in a Sardinian dialect proclaiming, ”Democracy, the Sardinian nation supports the Catalan nation,” and held the flags of Sardinia and Spain’s Catalonia region, where while serving as regional president Puigdemont pushed for secession from Spain.

His Italian lawyer, Agostinangelo Marras, told reporters outside the courthouse that an appeals court judge would hold a hearing to either uphold Puigdemont’s detention or release him, as part of the extradition request process. The judge’s decision “will be based on documents that I and the judge will have to evaluate,″ the lawyer said, without elaborating.

Marras said he spoke with Puigdemont and “I found him well. He has faith that the matter will be resolved as quickly as possible.″ Asked if his client was hopeful he would be released, Marras replied, ”Obviously.”

The hearing might be held on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, the lawyer has indicated.

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