Ex-Catalan leader must stay in Germany for now

Apr 08, 2018, 01:42
Ex-Catalan leader must stay in Germany for now

He was travelling by vehicle through Germany at the time, from Finland to Belgium, where he has lived since fleeing Spanish justice past year.

Puigdemont, granted bail after German judges ruled he could not be extradited on charges of "rebellion" brought by Spain, thanked prison staff as he emerged to cheers and people waving Catalan flags. "But only after the end of the proceedings here in Germany, not before", he said at Saturday's press conference.

The speaker of Catalonia's regional parliament has again put forward a jailed separatist activist to be elected as the northeast Spanish region's new leader.

Mr. Puigdemont, " fifty five, told reporters he would remain in Berlin until his extradition case is concluded.

Mr Puigdemont, who fled Spain five months ago for Belgium after his administration's declaration of independence from Spain led to Madrid taking direct control of the regional government, was arrested last month on a Spanish-issued warrant as he entered Germany.

A demonstration against his still-possible extradition to Spain was also planned in the northern town of Neumuenster, where Puigdemont had been held following his arrest on March 25.

TRT World spoke with Barcelona-based journalist Marah Rayan for more details.

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He also called on the Spanish government to "respect democracy" and worldwide treaties in its treatment of the region and its politicians.

Misuse of public funds carries a sentence of around eight years at Spain, while a rebellion sentence can hit 30 years.

Germany's justice minister has applauded a court's decision to free Puigdemont on bail, two weeks after his arrest in Germany.

The court said Thursday that Puigdemont can't be extradited on the main charge Spain is leveling against him, that of rebellion, because the comparable German charge of treason specifies "violence".

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley welcomed Thursday's court ruling, telling the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper it was "absolutely right". Puigdemont can still be extradited on the less serious charge of misuse of funds.

Spain would now have to prove that Puigdemont was guilty of misusing public funds, she said, adding "That won't be easy".