German prosecutors request Puigdemont's extradition

Glen Norman
April 5, 2018

A second charge of misusing public funds is likely to prove uncontroversial, but Spanish prosecutors have been reluctant to allow his extradition on that charge alone.

"The prosecutor's office of Schleswig-Holstein state applied for an extradition arrest warrant against former Catalonian regional president Carles Puigdemont from the superior regional court", it said in a statement.

The request comes after demonstrations by independence supporters at the weekend in Berlin and Catalonia calling for Puigdemont's immediate release and a small rally outside his jail yesterday.

"This has a comparable equivalent in German law", said the prosecutors in a statement, adding that in Germany this counted as high treason. Puigdemont will remain in custody until a ruling is returned. Worldwide arrest warrants are active against four other politicians who fled overseas a year ago, including Carla Ponsati, a former Catalan education minister and nationalist leader, who is fighting extradition from her current place of residence in Scotland.

Prosecutors in the state of Schleswig-Holstein said Spain's extradition request was admissible because accusations of rebellion included carrying out an anti-constitutional referendum which could cause violent clashes.

It was not immediately clear when the court would rule on Puigdemont's possible extradition.

They noted that during a meeting with police on September 28, Mr Puigdemont was warned that violence might escalate on the day of the October 1 referendum, but his government went through with it anyway.

They said the Spanish charge of misuse of public money - for an unconstitutional referendum - could also be punished in Germany.

Mr Puigdemont's lawyers have urged the German government to intervene in the case, citing the "political dimension".

Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said his client's fate now rested with the courts. It is unclear when the German court will make its decision.

"We are countries that deeply respect the rule of law. and the separation of powers", he said.

Puigdemont has already filed an appeal in Spain against a decision to prosecute him, arguing the rebellion charge against him is not justified.

The Spanish court aims to try a total of 25 Catalan leaders for rebellion and other charges.

The former Catalan leader was arrested late last month, while driving into Germany from Denmark.

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