German prosecutor to decide on extradition of former Catalan leader to Spain

Former Catalan separitist leader Carles Puigdemont attends a press conference with newly-elected Catalan leader Quim Torra

A court in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein has decided today to extradite former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont to Spain.

However, judges ruled that Mr Puigdemont, 55, could not be extradited on the more serious charge of rebellion, which is not recognised under German law, meaning that Spain will not be able to push this charge if Mr Puigdemont is sent back.

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. In March, he was detained in Germany on a European arrest warrant while traveling through the country.

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 was arrested on his way back from a trip to Finland.

The decision of the German court is not final, and sources from Puigdemont's legal team have told EL PAÍS that they are planning to appeal the decision to extradite him for misuse of funds at the country's Constitutional Court.

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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. In Spain, he could face imprisonment. "It shows once more the deception and lies of a court case that should never have been started", he wrote.

The current Catalan regional premier, Quim Torra, a hard-line supporter of Catalan independence, was quick to voice his reaction to the news via Twitter.

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

On July 9, Mr Torra and Spanish Prime Minister held a "cordial" two hour to discuss jo9nt initiatives between the two regions - but ruled out any plans to pursue Catalan indpendence. "This would have been an argument available to Mr Puigdemont and other Catalan Ministers had they contested their extradition from England". The court argued that the nearest German equivalent, high treason, was not applicable as Puigdemont had not caused or instigated violence.

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