Exiled Catalan ex-leader Puigdemont hopes to return to Belgium

Puigdemont was released after he was arrested in Germany, pending a decision on extradition to Spain.

    Carles Puigdemont fled Spain five months ago for Belgium [Reuters]
    Carles Puigdemont fled Spain five months ago for Belgium [Reuters]

    Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has said that he would remain in Berlin while a German court considers whether to extradite him to Spain on a charge of misuse of public funds, but he hoped to return to live in Belgium eventually.

    A German court on Thursday rejected an extradition request for Puigdemont on the more serious charge of rebellion for his role in the campaign for the region's independence that could have resulted in a decades-long jail sentence in Spain.

    "My wish is to return to Belgium. But only after the end of the proceedings here in Germany, not before," he told reporters in Berlin.

    "My plan is to remain of course in Berlin. It is my residence now until the end of this process," he said.

    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.

    Spain respects decision

    The Spanish government has said it would respect the German court's decision. But Spain's Supreme Court said on Friday it was considering consulting the European Court of Justice on the ruling, without giving more details.

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    Spain's Supreme Court reactivated international arrest warrants last month for Puigdemont and four other Catalan politicians who went into self-imposed exile last year.

    Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Saturday that his government upholds and abides by court rulings in Spain and elsewhere.

    Puigdemont left jail in Germany on Friday after a court said he could be released on bail. 

    Puigdemont walked out of the Neumuenster prison, nearly two weeks after he was arrested while travelling from Finland back to Belgium.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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