THE Spanish Supreme Court’s near-manic pursuit of exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has descended into farce after he was arrested on arrival in Sardinia – on a European arrest warrant which was believed to be suspended – only to be released.

However, he will have to stay on the island and appear at a court in the city of Sassari tomorrow, where judges will decide what to do about the warrant.

Italian police arrested Puigdemont late on Thursday night when he arrived on the island, despite the fact that Spain’s high court had already told European Union judicial authorities that the arrest warrants for him, along with fellow MEPs Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin, were indeed suspended.

The National: Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont (centre) poses with Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

From left: Clara Ponsati, Carles Puigdemont, and Toni Comin

Josep Lluís Alay, the head of Puigdemont’s office, told journalists: “The good news is that the president will probably be released from prison today.

“Now we have to wait for the judge to dictate his immediate release from prison and he will have to stay in Sardinia for a few days to continue the process that Spain's extradition has begun.”

It is not clear if the Sardinian judiciary will consider Spain’s extradition request because of a lack of clarity on whether or not the warrants are suspended.

Spain insists they are still active, but Puigdemont’s lawyers argue that when the Supreme Court raised the issue of Catalan exiles at EU courts in March, the extradition request was suspended.

The European General Court stated on July 30 that the arrest warrant against Puigdemont was considered suspended when Spain raised its questions to the judges in Luxembourg.

Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, the bête noire of the Catalan independence movement who is charge of Puigdemont's case in Madrid, claimed that the arguments submitted to the European courts “do not modify” the warrants.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Puigdemont must submit to justice like any other citizen.

Speaking on a visit to the volcano ravaged island of La Palma, he said: “When Puigdemont fled from the action of justice there was another government. This government has always maintained the same position.

“First of all, I respect all the judicial procedures that are opened in Spain, in Europe, in this case in Italy.

“And without any doubt, I also respect and abide by the judicial decisions that can be taken in this regard in Italy.”

Puigdemont’s arrest sparked protests in Barcelona, including a large gathering outside the Italian consulate.

Catalan President Pere Aragones earlier demanded Puigdemont’s release, and indicated he would travel to Sardinia to see him.

“It [Spain’s] is a judicial system that only seeks revenge,” said Aragones. “The only solution is through amnesty and self-determination.

“The State has deceived European justice. This does not contribute to generating trust between the parties.”