German Court Authorizes Extradition to Spain of Catalonia's Former Leader

13 July, 2018, 01:20 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Carles Puigdemont was living in self-imposed exile in Belgium following the failed independence bid until his arrest in Germany in March

On Thursday morning, the higher court in Schleswig-Holstein authorised Puigdemont's extradition to Spain on the lesser charge of misuse of public funds, but rejected a request to send him back on grounds of rebellion.

The decision means that if he is extradited, Puigdemont can only stand trial in Spain on embezzlement charges over allegations he misused public funds, court spokeswoman Christine von Milczewski said.

A spokesman for the Schleswig-Holstein prosecutor said that it would grant extradition "soon" after the ruling by the superior regional court of Schleswig-Holstein, the northern state where Mr Puigdemont was arrested on March 25 on a Spanish-issued European arrest warrant.

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.

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Puigdemont hailed the decision as a victory, tweeting "we have defeated the central lie of the (Spanish) state".

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

Puigdemont and several other former Catalan leaders have been accused by Spanish authorities of misusing funds by holding the independence referendum last October, which Madrid described as illegal. The laws of most countries do not criminalise rebellion, with the result that there is no "dual criminality" between Spain and Germany.

He therefore can not be extradited on a "rebellion" charge and, if he is returned to Spain, Spanish authorities can not prosecute Puigdemont based on that accusation. "It shows once more the deception and lies of a court case that should never have been started", he wrote. Before he closed this part of the proceedings, he ordered Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras, and the four other politicians who are being held in pre-trial custody (Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Jordi Sànchez) to be suspended from their roles as deputies in the Catalan parliament. "It will be in Europe where we win".

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