Published: Fri, July 13, 2018

German court: Catalan politician can legally be extradited

German court: Catalan politician can legally be extradited

The court in Schleswig-Holstein gave its green light to the extradition of the 55-year-old for misuse of public funds but not rebellion, which carries up to 25 years in jail.

A German court made a decision to allow the extradition of Catalan separatist leaderCarles Puigdemont to Spain, on a charge of misuse of public funds, a blow to the Spanish authorities' bid to bring him back to stand trial on the more serious charge of rebellion.

While separatists had hoped Mr. Puigdemont could avoid extradition altogether, Thursday's decision is likely to invigorate Catalonia's pro-independence forces.

Mr Puigdemont went into exile in Belgium after Madrid sacked him and his government for unilaterally declaring independence for Catalonia... But the process has been delayed given the German court's doubts over an equivalent to rebellion under German law - a requirement for him to be handed over to Spain on that charge - and the evidence that had been supplied by the Spanish courts to back the charges.

"We have defeated the main lie upheld by the state [Spain]".

The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence. "German justice denies that the October 1 referendum was rebellion", Puigdemont tweeted following the court decision.

German state prosecutors still have to formally decide on the extradition request, but said in a statement that they would do so "soon" and did not plan on appealing the ruling. However, the court will do so only on the charges of misuse of public funds that the Spanish authorities have filed against him, and not for the crime of rebellion.

Puigdemont has been on bail since April, after a court ruled he could not be extradited for rebellion, as that was not actionable under German law.

"He was not a "spiritual leader" of violence", the court said in a statement.

"Catalan political prisoners should be freed NOW", he said.

Puigdemont is one of 13 separatist leaders accused of rebellion, four of whom are in self-exile in various European countries. "It shows once more the deception and lies of a court case that should never have been started", he wrote. "It will be in Europe where we win".

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