Carles Puigdemont: Ousted Catalonia leader faces extradition to Spain

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

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.

In its Thursday ruling, the Schleswig-Holstein court said that the acts for which Puigdemont stands accused do not amount to high treason nor a breach of public peace according to German law.

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.

He was arrested in germany on March 28, with the spanish government accusing him of of rebelling and misappropriating public funds.

The Spanish government wanted Puigdemont to go on trial for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for organising an illegal referendum in Catalonia that led to a unilateral declaration of independence in October, with the former charge potentially leading to a prison sentence of up to 25 years. He was arrested on his way back from a trip to Finland.

After an initial ruling that Puigdemont could not be extradited for rebellion because the comparable German treason charge requires the defendant to have committed violence, prosecutors in May said they had received new video evidence showing violence against Spanish police which they claimed made extradition on the charge possible.

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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. The text continues: "Puigdemont was only aiming for a referendum to be held [.] He was not the inciter of violence".

"We have defeated the main lie sustained by the state", Puigdemont tweeted.

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. Every minute that our colleagues spend in jail is a minute of shame and injustice.

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.

This week saw Pablo Llarena, the High Court judge in charge of the cases against the pro-independence figures, wind up the investigative phase of the probe.

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