German court authorises extradition of Carles Puigdemont

Court in Schleswig-Holstein rules Catalan fugitive ex-leader can be extradited on the charge of misuse of public funds.

    A German court has authorised the extradition to Spain of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont [File: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]
    A German court has authorised the extradition to Spain of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont [File: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]

    A German court has authorised the extradition to Spain of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. 

    A court in Schleswig-Holstein ruled on Thursday that Puigdemont could be extradited, but only on a charge of misuse of public funds. 

    A second charge of rebellion did not warrant an extradition from Germany to Spain, the court ruled. 

    "Extradition on the accusation of misappropriation of public funds is permissible; extradition on the accusation of rebellion is not permissible," the superior regional court of Schleswig-Holstein state said in a statement. 

    DPA news agency reported a spokesperson said the extradition order for Puigdemont will soon be approved by Schleswig-Holstein's state attorney general.

    In a tweet, Puigdemont on Thursday said the ruling signified a defeat of the "main lie sustained by the [Spanish] state", that his role in the referendum amounted to treason. 

    "We will fight to the end and win!" the tweet said. 

    Puigdemont was arrested as he entered Germany on a Spanish-issued warrant in late March.

    The former Catalan president fled Spain for Belgium in October after his administration's declaration of independence from Spain led to the central government in Madrid taking direct control of the regional government.

    He is wanted in Spain for alleged misuse of public funds in relation to Catalonia's independence declaration, as well as "rebellion" in  organising a referendum  that Madrid deemed illegal. 

    After an initial ruling that Puigdemont could not be extradited for rebellion because the comparable German treason charge requires the defendant to have committed violence, prosecutors in May said they had received new video evidence showing violence against Spanish police which they claimed made extradition on the charge possible. 

    In its Thursday ruling, the Schleswig-Holstein court said that the acts for which Puigdemont stands accused do not amount to high treason nor a breach of public peace according to German law. 

    "The amount of violence required for the charge of high treason was not seen in the altercations in Spain. Breach of the public peace does not apply because Carles Puigdemont was only involved in carrying out the [independence] referendum," the court said in a statement, adding that he was not a "spiritual leader" of violence.

    The ruling means that if the extradition goes ahead, Spain can only try Puigdemont on the charge of embezzlement and not for rebellion.  

    Puigdemont has denied his charges. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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