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German court allows extradition of former Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-12 23:22
File photo of Carles Puigdemont. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - A regional court in Germany on Thursday ruled that Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont can be extradited to Spain only on the charge of misusing public funds instead rebellion.

According to the statement of the higher court in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, the Spanish courts were assumed that they would observe this principle and will not prosecute Puigdemont after extradition because of the charge of rebellion.

An extradition for the charge of rebellion was rejected by the court because the allegations against Puigdemont "neither the German offense of high treason nor the breach of the peace constituted," according to the court.

Puigdemont's criminal liability under the aspect of rioting was also denied by the court, which said that Puigdemont only intended the holding of the referendum. He was no "intellectual leader" of acts of violence.

The prosecution had tried to substantiate their claim of high treason through videos showing protestors making a stand against police and throwing chairs on the day of the illegal referendum. But as Puigdemont was not seen in any of the videos, the judge did not regard this as proof that the accused was actively calling for violence.

The court ruled out that the extradition request aims at politically persecuting Puigdemont in Spain, a concern raised by Puigdemont.

"We have defeated the main lie upheld by the state (Spain). German justice denies that the referendum on October 1 was rebellion," Puigdemont said in a Twitter post following the court ruling.

The prosecution will not appeal the decision but will now adjudge the approval of extradition on the basis of embezzlement and corruption.

The decision by the German court puts pressure on the Spanish courts.

Spanish authorities had accused Puigdemont of stoking the flames of a rebellion, fighting for independence of Catalonia. In Spain, conviction of rebellion can be punished with up to 25 years in prison.

The three German lawyers of Puigdemont pointed out that Spanish judiciary would not be allowed to prosecute Puigdemont on counts of rebellion or treason.

The Catalan separatist leader went into exile in Belgium after Madrid fired him and his government for "illegally" declaring independence for Catalonia.

He was later detained in Germany in March on a European arrest warrant while travelling into Germany from Denmark.

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