Catalan separatist leader to attend hearing in Italy on Oct. 4

Former Catalan government head Carles Puigdemont attends a news conference in Alghero, Italy, September 26, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

MILAN (Reuters) - Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont said on Saturday he would be in Sardinia on Oct. 4 to attend a court hearing on his European arrest warrant after being kept in police custody in Italy for less then 24 hours.

A court in Sardinia released Puigdemont on Friday, a day after Italian police detained him under the European arrest warrant issued by Spain, as he travelled to the Italian island to attend a Catalan folklore festival in the city of Alghero.

Spain had demanded that Italy extradite Puigdemont, who headed Catalonia's government at the time of a vote on independence from Spain in 2017 which courts said was illegal.

"We will continue fighting. We will never give up and I will continue travelling around Europe," Puigdemont told a news conference in Alghero, where he was accompanied buy the city's mayor. "I'll be back to Brussels on Monday".

The separatist leader, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, praised Italy for handling his case quickly.

"I am happy with the final result. Because our political and legal arguments have been proven," he said. "The Italian justice took only a few hours to make this decision."

"I'll be back on Oct. 4 for the hearing and, if the Italian justice will decide for my freedom, I'll go back home in Belgium," he said.

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari and Jessica Jones, writing by Giulio Piovaccari. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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