Former Catalan leader can be extradited on corruption charges, German court rules

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

A German court has ruled that former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who led the Spanish region's recent failed bid for independence, can be extradited to Spain on a corruption charge, but not on a charge of rebellion against the government in Madrid.

The court in Schleswig-Holstein gave its green light to the extradition of the 55-year-old for misuse of public funds but not rebellion, which carries up to 25 years in jail.

A spokeswoman for the court said: "The court decided this morning that an extradition due to the accusation of misuse of public funds is permissible".

Responding to the court decision, prosecutors said they would soon decide whether to authorise the extradition of Mr Puigdemont.

Also present was St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati, who is fighting extradition on charges of "violent rebellion" after helping organise last year's Catalan referendum. The court said in its ruling that he can remain free.

Puigdemont has been on bail since April, after a court ruled he could not be extradited for rebellion, as that was not actionable under German law. Other Catalan politicians are facing the same charge, such as Oriol Junqueras, the former leader of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and one-time deputy regional premier.

Puigdemont has been in Germany after fleeing Spain for Belgium previous year in the wake of the unilateral declaration of independence passed by the Catalan regional government.

"We have defeated the main lie sustained by the state", Puigdemont tweeted.

"The amount of violence required for the charge of high treason was not seen in the altercations in Spain". "The German justice system denies that the October 1 referendum was rebellion. We will fight to the end, and we will win!", Puigdemont said, referring to other pro-independence Catalan leaders in detention.

"Every minute that our companions spend in prison is a minute of shame and injustice".

He was arrested in germany on March 28, with the spanish government accusing him of of rebelling and misappropriating public funds. But the process has been delayed given the German court's doubts over an equivalent to rebellion under German law - a requirement for him to be handed over to Spain on that charge - and the evidence that had been supplied by the Spanish courts to back the charges.

Meanwhile, new Catalan president Quim Torra met Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh on Wednesday, in an event that represented the "starting point" for a close relationship between Catalonia and Scotland.

"This demonstrates once again the mistakes and lies behind a legal case which should never have been opened". "It will be in Europe where we win".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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