Ex-Catalan leader must stay in Germany for now


The Spanish government says it can't assess the decision by a German court to release on bail the former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont until it has more details about the ruling — but is vowing to respect it. "Today we are demanding that the Spanish government takes a new position". "It's a shame for Europe to still have political prisoners".

The separatist majority in Catalonia's regional parliament had wanted to elect Puigdemont as Catalan president, but he fled to Belgium to escape arrest in Spain on rebellion charges for his role in the region's push last October to break away from Spain.

Asked if independence was the only solution for the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish government, he said: "No".

Puigdemont also thanked the German authorities for "their professionality and for their respect", and thanked his fellow inmates for "their solidarity and help for me to adapt quickly to the situation". "Today we must ask they rectify, now that there is a resolution by the United Nations human rights committee", Puigdemont said.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has made a renewed call for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over the region's secession bid.

He had been there since March 25, when he was arrested crossing the border from Denmark.

He was held on remand in a prison in Neumünster, an hour north of Hamburg, where he was treated "very well, professionally".

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The state court in Schleswig said Thursday that the charge of rebellion wouldn't warrant extradition because the equivalent German law presumes the use or threat of force sufficient to bend the will of authorities.

Spain is seeking Puigdemont's extradition for rebellion and misuse of public funds in organizing an unauthorized referendum previous year on Catalonia's independence from Spain.

Catalonia's most prominent independence leader had spent 12 nights in jail on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain.

"My duty is to remain here in Germany until the end of the judicial process here ..." "I would like to return to a normal life", he said.

"I don't think Spain has come up with any reason why they can not self-determine their own future and I think that as things progress we will see the Catalan people grow in strength, in number and increasingly the European Union will come under pressure to recognise the desire for self-determination and will have to act upon it".

Towards the end of his statement, he said: "I have always wanted global mediation... one of my last interventions was to ask Spanish authorities to accept the mediation of other European states".

Madrid is seeking his extradition, but German judges rejected the charges of rebellion - similar to the German crime of high treason - because there was no violence involved.