German prosecutors request Puigdemont's extradition to Spain

Catalonia's former leader has been in detention for almost 10 days after he was arrested on a European arrest warrant.

    Ousted Catalan leader delivering a speech in Girona on October 28, 2017 [Photo Jordi Bedmar/AFP]
    Ousted Catalan leader delivering a speech in Girona on October 28, 2017 [Photo Jordi Bedmar/AFP]

    German prosecutors have asked a court in Germany to permit the extradition of the former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont to Spain.

    The prosecutors in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein applied for the extradition of Puigdemont after "extensive examination" of the European arrest warrant issued by Spain against him and five other fugitive separatist leaders.

    The prosecutors also asked that Puigdemont is to remain in jail until the court decides on his charges.

    It is not immediately clear when the court will rule on his possible extradition.

    Puigdemont was arrested by German police on March 25, as he was travelling from Finland back to Belgium, where he was living in self-imposed exile since Catalonia's independence referendum last October.

    Spain is seeking the former president's extradition under charges of misuse of public funds in relation to Catalonia's independence declaration, as well as "rebellion" in organising a referendum, which Madrid has deemed illegal.

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    The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

    The request by prosecutors for his extradition comes after demonstrations by independence supporters last weekend in Berlin and Catalonia, calling for Puigdemont's release.

    An extradition request requires that the conduct that gave rise to the arrest warrant in Spain would also be punishable under German criminal law.

    While the charge of rebellion does not apply in Germany, the state prosecutor said on Tuesday that it could be equated with high treason in German law.

    A lower court in Germany had already ordered Puigdemont to remain in custody in the northern town of Neumuenster, as judicial authorities decide on his extradition.

    They have 60 days to make a decision.

    Puigdemont's lawyers said they will appeal the order of extradition to a German federal court.

    In Spain, Puigdemont has already filed an appeal against a decision to prosecute him, arguing that the rebellion charge against him is unjustified.

    His lawyers have also urged the German government to intervene in the case.

    German media has reported, however, that Angela Merkel's government has already decided not to veto any decision made by the court.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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