CARLES Puigdemont has arrived back in Brussels – to taunts from a group of Spaniards.

The former Catalan president was taken into custody in Sardinia on a European arrest warrant issued by Spain over the 2017 Catalan indyref last week.

A judge then released him and said he would hear the case next month, when Puigdemont could appear virtually – although he has said he intends to be there in person.

He was in the Catalan-speaking city of Alghero for a Catalan cultural festival, but was taunted by the Spaniards when he arrived in Brussels, where they shouted: “Long live Spain – in prison ... the Catalan countries don’t exist.”

Writing on Twitter, Puigdemont said: “When we arrived in Brussels, a group of Spaniards began to shout like energumens [possessed beings], probably a little angry at the ridiculousness of their country.

“Just the opposite of the Spanish couple who sat next to me on the flight from Alghero to Rome. They wished me good luck.”

READ MORE: Carles Puigdemont free to leave Sardinia but must attend court virtually

Over the past four years, Spain’s Supreme Court has made numerous efforts to have Puigdemont and his former ministers, such as Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin, extradited to face charges over the indyref, but so far all have failed.

Earlier at a news conference the former president thanked Spain for the “invaluable help” they had given the indy movement by generating international publicity for it.

He said: “I encourage them to continue doing it because we are doing well. This is an operation instigated by the Spanish government ... no doubt.”

Puigdemont said his arrest was a form of “persecution”, adding: “The events of the previous days prove all of our arguments, our reasons in our fight for freedom and democracy to defend the right to self-determination, the right to free speech, free movement, the right to engage in politics.

“We are right to demand to the European Court of Justice to defend our rights.

“We will never give up this fight and I will continue travelling around Europe explaining.”

He was stripped of his immunity as an MEP earlier this year, then had it restored before being removed again in a provisional decision by the European Court of Justice.

Given the events in Sardinia, his legal team are hoping to have that immunity returned once again.