German court rejects Puigdemont extradition to Spain for rebellion

Catalan ex-leader Puigdemont can be extradited for corruption not rebellion – German court

Mads Claus Rasmussen Scanpix AFP

Spain's former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will be released under conditions, a German regional court announced on Thursday. He has been ordered to stay in Germany while extradition proceedings continue.

In response to the German court's ruling, a Spanish official said the government in Madid respects judicial decisions "always, when it likes them and when it doesn't".

Earlier on March 25, the Puigdemont was arrested on a Spanish-issued warrant as he attempted to enter Germany via Finland.

But the court ruled out Puigdemont's extradition based on charges of "rebellion", highlighting that it was not compatible with the German law.

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Schleswig state court spokeswoman Frauke Holmer said Thursday that once Puigdemont makes the 75,000-euro ($92,000) bail judges set for him Thursday, he won't be allowed to leave Germany without prosecutors' approval, must inform prosecutors of every change of residence and report to police once a week.

The Spanish government said it respected the decision of the German court.

The misuse of public funds charge relates to the cost of the Catalan independence referendum, estimated at 1.6 million euros by Madrid.

The closest offence in German law is high treason - however the accused person's actions would have to include a violent element for the charge to be applicable.

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The separatist leader is wanted on Spain on charges of corruption, rebellion and sedition for his part in the region's push for independence from Spain. Two other members of the regional police and an official with the regional interior department were also indicted.

Puigdemont's lawyers have appealed in Spain against the "rebellion" charge, highlighting that he was not involved in violence.

However, the court in the northern city of Schleswig said there could be a case to answer for misusing public funds last October to hold an unauthorised independence referendum. But he then came under severe pressure when Spanish national authorities asked his regional police force to help prevent the October 1 referendum, which triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

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